Based on the analysis of the decision to adopt accrual accounting by the French State, this study emphasizes the trajectory of this innovation, from the first debates around this idea in the 1980s to its introduction in the LOLF in 2001. Relying on the Actor-Network-Theory (ANT) framework, this study presents the birth of the need for this public sector reform, the progressive construction of a network of actors supporting it and the controversies raised. This case study shows the importance of phantom images in justifying the reform, leading to the conclusion that beliefs are as important as hard facts. It also highlights how the concrete idea of what would be accrual accounting in France was only defined at the end of the innovation process, when the adoption of accrual accounting was already irreversible. Link to the article
CHRISTENSEN, M. and ROCHER, S. (2021). Phantom images in public sector accounting reform: A French study. Comptabilité, Contrôle, Audit, 27(2021/1), pp. 159 -187.