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The multidimensional character of accounting numbers

Stenka, R. and Kokot, P. (2015) The multidimensional character of accounting numbers. In: Alternative Accounts Annual Conference, April 17 – 18, 2015, Ottowa, Canada.

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This paper takes as its motivation debates surrounding the multiplicity of functions of accounting information. We are in particular interested in the existential function of accounting numbers and argue that numerical signs having discursive possibilities may acquire new meanings through reframing. Drawing on Goffman’s (1974) frame analysis and Vollmer’s (2007) work on three-dimensional character of numerical signs, we explore the ways in which numbers can go through instantaneous transformations and tell a new kind of story. In our analysis, we look at the main historical developments and current controversies surrounding accounting practice with a specific focus on scandals involving numerical signs as moments where our understandings and the discursive function of previously inoffensive signs shifts through a collective involvement. We map the purpose and usefulness of Vollmer’s three-dimensional framework in the analysis of selected financial accounting practices and scandals as examples of instances where numbers are reframed to suddenly perform a different existential function in context of their calculative and symptomatic dimensions.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions:Henley Business School > Business Informatics, Systems and Accounting
ID Code:45494

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