Accounting and the Making of <i>Homo Liberalis</i>

  • Caroline Lambert HEC Paris
  • Eric Pezet Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense

Abstract

This paper investigates the practices whereby the subject, in an organisational context, carries out systematic practices of self-discipline and becomes a calculative self. In particular, we explore the techniques of conduct developed by management accountants in a French carmaker, which adheres to a neoliberal environment. We show how these management accountants become calculative selves by building the very measurement of their own performance. The organisation thereby emerges as the cauldron in which a Homo liberalis is forged. Homo liberalis is the individual capable of constructing for him/her the political self-discipline establishing his/her relationship with the social world on the basis of measurable performance. The management accountants studied in this article prefigure the Homo liberalis in the self-discipline they develop to act in compliance with the organisation’s goals.

Author Biographies

Caroline Lambert, HEC Paris
Caroline Lambert is Associate Professor of Accounting at HEC Paris. Her research is primarily in management accounting and control, accountants and gender studies. She has published numerous articles in journal such as Accounting, Organizations and Society, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Accouting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Management Accounting Research, The European Accounting Review, Comptabilité Contrôle Audit and Finance, Contrôle, Stratégie etc.
Eric Pezet, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense
Eric Pezet is professor of organizations studies and human resource management at Université Paris Ouest Nanterre LA Défense. He is co-founder of the international and interdisciplinary research group Paris research in norms management and law (http://primal.u-paris10.fr). He works on managerial government (Pezet E.(ed), Management et conduite de soi. Enquête sur les ascèses de la performance (Paris Vuibert, 2007) and on the relations between managerial government and political government ("Pacifying the social: Creating the French citizen worker, 1968–1975," Management & Organizational History, 2012, 7: 61-71). He is currently working on the relation between managerial norms and juridical norms.
Published
2012-04-24
Section
Special Issue on Foucault and Accounting