Accounting information systems as knowledge objects: some effects of objectualization

Alan D. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper will outline a research methodology informed by theorists who have contributed to actor network theory (ANT). Research informed from such a perspective recognizes the constitutive role of accounting systems in the achievement of broader social goals. Latour, Knoor Cetina and others argue that the bringing in of non-human actants, through the growth of technology and science, has added immeasurably to the complexity of modern society. The paper ‘sees’ accounting and accounting systems as being constituted by technological ‘black boxes’ and seeks to discuss two questions. One concerns the processes which surround the establishment of ‘facts’, i.e. how ‘black boxes’ are created or accepted (even if temporarily) within society. The second concerns the role of existing ‘black boxes’ within society and organizations. Accounting systems not only promote a particular view of the activities of an organization or a subunit, but in their very implementation and operation ‘mobilize’ other organizational members in a particular direction. The implications of such an interpretation are explored in this paper. Firstly through a discussion of some of the theoretic constructs that have been proposed to frame ANT research. Secondly an attempt is made to relate some of these ideas to aspects of the empirics in a qualitative case study. The case site is in the health sector and involves the implementation of a casemix accounting system. Evidence from the case research is used to exemplify aspects of the theoretical constructs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-100
Number of pages26
JournalManagement Accounting Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2001


  • actor network theory
  • knowledge-objects
  • sociology of translation
  • case research
  • casemix accounting


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