The Promissory Economy of Internal Control

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This paper discusses internal control over taxation processes in large organizations. A challenge with developing internal control is that it is voluntary and requires heavy administrative work; therefore, the implementation of internal control is supported by a wealth of promises of what this may deliver in the future. The paper reports a case study of how large organizations develop internal control over their taxation processes. The paper is based on a total of 38 in-depth qualitative interviews that cover the three parties in the tax-triangle. This comprises 1) corporate tax directors, 2) external tax advisers and 3) tax administrators from the Danish tax authority. The paper shows that a wealth of promises drives the development of internal control. The paper argues that there is a specific promissory economy that enables engagement in the work with the internal controls. The concept of the promissory economy has been used to describe the bio-economy in the pharmaceutical industry and has been a topic in STS’s approach to analyzing technoscientific capitalism. I argue that the concept is valuable to use in this context as it enables us to understand the changing chain of promises of what internal control can deliver to the different actors in tax-triangle, and how various forms of resources are invested in making the controls function. The study adds to the current debate about how implementation of new accountability tools (such as internal control) is done on a basis of not yet realised future promises.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventNordic Science and Technology Studies Conference 2021: STS and the Future as a Matter of Collective Concern - Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
Duration: 20 May 202121 May 2021


ConferenceNordic Science and Technology Studies Conference 2021
LocationCopenhagen Business School
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