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Journal Articles Accounting, Organizations and Society Year : 2013

Politicizing the expertise of the accounting industry in the realm of corporate social responsibility

Bertrand Malsch
  • Function : Author

Abstract

The accounting industry plays an important role in the production and implementation of accountability mechanisms surrounding corporate social responsibility practices. Operating as both politicians and implementers of knowledge (Gendron, Cooper, & Townley, 2007), the expert activities of accountants are never purely technical. This paper focuses on the mediating role of accounting firms and professional bodies in aligning the socially responsible practices of organizations with the rational morality of the market. I show that the construction of the market as a moral marker of socially responsible action is the result of a major effort of rationalization aimed at justifying the emergence of a social and moral conscience in business, not in the name of subjective feelings or human values, but in the name of an economic and depoliticized logic of profitability. Drawing on the political analysis of Latour (2004) [Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy] and his metaphor of the 'modern constitution', I view the economicization of corporate social responsibility as symptomatic of the power imbalance between the world of humans and the world of objects governing the political structure of contemporary society and weakening democratic activity.

Dates and versions

hal-00808737 , version 1 (06-04-2013)

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Bertrand Malsch. Politicizing the expertise of the accounting industry in the realm of corporate social responsibility. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 2013, 38 (2), pp.149-168. ⟨10.1016/j.aos.2012.09.003⟩. ⟨hal-00808737⟩

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