The Making of the Management Accountant - Becoming the Producer of Truthful Knowledge

C. LAMBERT, E. Pezet

Accounting Organizations and Society

January 2011, vol. 36, n°1, pp.10-30

Departments: Accounting & Management Control

accepté le 29/07/2010Research drawing upon the work of Foucault has approached management control technologies as a nexus of power and knowledge that allows for the subjectivation of individuals. Subjectivation thereby takes place through disciplinary mechanisms that are imposed on the subject (Knights & Morgan, 1991) as well as through 'technologies of the self' by which individuals discipline themselves (Miller & O'Leary, 1987; Roberts, 1991; Townley, 1994). While the existing literature has mostly analysed how disciplinary mechanisms work upon operational managers and employees, we show how management accountants (those usually 'in control') may equally be subject to such power effects. In our case study of an automobile equipment manufacturer, subjectivation of management accountants results from intense market discipline (as evidenced through reverse auctions), coupled with the accountants' responsibility for outcomes and for enforcing administrative and financial rules. We show how, together, these elements create a continuous 'trial of truth' (and power) for which management accountants have to prepare themselves in order to prove and maintain their authority.Keywords: Foucault, subjectivation, trials of truth, management accountant *CASE studies *MANAGEMENT accountants *INTERNET auctions *KNOWLEDGE management TRUTHFULNESS & falsehood PERFORMANCE SUBJECTIVITY