This thesis studies the rise of non-financial and future-oriented narratives in the regulatory framework for financial reporting standard-setting and legislation in the UK in the 1990s. The questioning of financial reporting numbers that surfaced in these debates is called here a "mistrust in numbers". To study the moments when a 'trust in numbers' is destabilized through these debates, the thesis focuses on three interrelated processes of financial reporting change. First, the thesis addresses the ways in which accounting sought to expand into new territory - territory in which the emergence of a category of non-financial and future-oriented accounting became closely linked to a rethinking of the concepts of how to govern British companies in the last two decades of the 20th century. Second, the thesis analyses how the expansion of accounting standard-setting beyond a focus on the financial statements in the early 1990s was made possible by the interplay of a number of ideas - some complementary, others competing - about the technical, professional, and international role of the British Accounting Standards Board. Third, the thesis analyses the agenda-setting process for the British Company Law Review between 1998 and 2002. It outlines how, through this reform process, a realignment between law, accounting, and "the State" was sought, one that mediated and structured at the same time modes of economic governance pertaining to both "the State" and "the market". This thesis concludes that the calls in the UK for supplementing financial statements with non-financial and future-oriented reporting elements constitute a significant rethinking of the roles of accounting and regulation in organising economic life. This rethinking entails, it is suggested, a move away from an emphasis on the neutrality and objectivity which has typically been associated with accounting numbers, and towards one aspiring to provide "transparency" based on an underlying economic reality.
|London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
|Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
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