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Journal articles (2004), Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 15 (4-5), pp. 485-512

Accounting by words not numbers: the handmaiden of power in the academy

Managerialism in Australian universities has diverted the dominant discourse from pedagogy to financial viability. In this new discourse ‘student numbers’ and concordant accounting measures command respect in a period when funding constraints and increased ‘casualisation’ of academic positions have characterised Australian campuses. This research presents a case study of a university’s decision to eliminate its sole remaining language offering to undergraduate and postgraduate students. The research ‘follows the discourse’ and shows how university managers used accounting words and not numbers to maximise their control of the discourse and so achieve their desired outcome. Whilst maintaining managerialist rhetoric but avoiding the usual accounting translations that lead to accounting inscriptions, the managers maximised their flexibility and attempted to preserve emotional labour on the campus. Accounting without numbers has become the handmaiden of university managers managing by ambiguity in their response to significant change. Link to the article

CHRISTENSEN, M. (2004). Accounting by words not numbers: the handmaiden of power in the academy. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 15(4-5), pp. 485-512.

Keywords : #Accounting-without-numbers,-Discourse-analysis,-Managerial-ambiguity,-Managerialism