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Toward dialogic accounting? Public accountants’ assistance to works councils - A tool between hope and illusion

Godowski, Christophe, Nègre, Emmanuelle and Verdier, Marie-Anne (2019) Toward dialogic accounting? Public accountants’ assistance to works councils - A tool between hope and illusion. Critical Perspectives on Accounting (n°69).

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Identification Number : 10.1016/j.cpa.2019.102095

Abstract

French law allows works councils (WCs, mandatory bodies representing employees and having both economic and social rights in firms with more than 50 employees) to be assisted by public accountants (PAs) to help them understand the accounting and financial information received from managers. The aim of this assistance is to strengthen the democratic role of the WCs in firms. The purpose of this research is to examine whether and how the PAs’ assistance to WCs leads to the emergence of a form of agonistic democracy by contributing to an evolution in firms’ uses of accounting. We conducted a qualitative study with 36 semi-structured interviews with both PAs and WC members. Our results indicate that, under certain circumstances, the assistance provided by PAs can support dialogue between the WC members (“laypersons”) and the managers (“experts”) in WCs, which can be viewed as “hybrid forums” (open spaces where heterogeneous groups come together to debate socio-technical choices). The confrontation between different ideological orientations that inevitably arises can contribute to a dialogic use of accounting, which is promising for developing an agonistic democracy within organizations. However, PA assistance to a WC must be carefully handled because of the risk that managers will instrumentalize it. When this happens, accounting is still used in a monologic (as opposed to dialogic) form in firm management. The risk is that genuine participation by WC members remains illusory.

Item Type: Article
Language: English
Date: August 2019
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Public accountants, Works councils, Dialogic tool, Agonistic democracy
Subjects: C- GESTION
Divisions: TSM Research (Toulouse)
Site: UT1
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2021 10:06
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2021 12:17
OAI Identifier: oai:tsm.fr:2680
URI: http://publications.ut-capitole.fr/id/eprint/42187

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