Complex organizations are faced with numerous demands that translate into different assessments of value. We focus here on the agency of performance metrics and how they represent and mediate multiple and contrasting values. We draw on a case study of technology incubation, a complex site where attempts to meet the sometimes conflicting demands of stakeholders inevitably lead to multiple assessments of the value of innovation. We propose a theoretical model inspired by Beunza and Garud’s (2007) notion of calculative frame, positing that each frame expresses value in terms of a dominant principle of worth, a metaphorical root, and the key metrics of worth. We then explore how and under what conditions the tensions among frames are mediated by compromising metrics. Our paper contributes to the literature on socio-materiality by strengthening the conceptual linkages between the elements of calculative frames and theorizing their co-constituted character. In this way we broaden the applicability of the calculative frame model to performance measurement in complex organizations. We also contribute to the management accounting literature on tensions and compromise by providing an account of the agency of performance metrics and the mechanisms of combinability through which they mediate a compromise among conflicting frames, and bridge frames that are not in conflict.
CASARIN, V. (2023). Calculative frames, compromising metrics, and the multiple values of innovation: The case of technology incubation in the UK. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 111(101479), pp. 1-21.