Verdier, Marie-Anne and Boutant Lapeyre, Jennifer (2023) The myth of workforce reductions efficiency: the performativity of accounting language. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, vol. 90 (n° 102380).

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Identification Number : 10.1016/


This paper draws on Austin’s conceptualization of performativity to show how the accounting strategies implemented before a workforce reduction can contribute to performing the myth of workforce reduction efficiency. To address this issue, we use both quantitative and qualitative methods. First, through quantitative analyses on a sample of 117 workforce reductions announced by 101 French listed firms from 2007 to 2012, we shed light how, by not taking accounting strategies into account in their models, prior mainstream studies may have conveyed false knowledge about improved performances after the operation and performed the workforce reduction efficiency supported by economic theories. Second, through a case study, we provide an in-depth illustration of the performativity effect of these accounting strategies and more precisely of downward earnings management, which can be considered a calculation act that contributes to performing the myth of the efficiency of these operations. Overall, this paper contributes to the workforce reduction literature by providing a critical illustration of how accounting numbers construct efficiency through the performative role given to earnings management. It also contributes to the critical accounting project by notably participating in the debate on the use of quantitative and mixed research methodologies in the critical accounting project.

Item Type: Article
Language: English
Date: January 2023
Refereed: Yes
Place of Publication: London.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Workforce reductions, Critical accounting, Earnings management, Performativity, Accounting language
Subjects: C- GESTION
Divisions: TSM Research (Toulouse)
Site: UT1
Date Deposited: 25 May 2023 09:52
Last Modified: 25 May 2023 09:52
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