Title: Accounting as the 'language' of organisational change: the case of a heritage railway

Authors: Kelum Jayasinghe, Teerooven Soobaroyen, Dennis Thomas

Addresses: Accounting and Finance Group, Essex Business School, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ, UK. ' School of Management and Business, Aberystwyth University, Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3DD, UK. ' School of Management and Business, Aberystwyth University, Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3DD, UK

Abstract: This paper examines the critical role the |accounting language| plays in organisational change. Whilst researchers have studied |business planning| as a pedagogic device aimed at controlling spending and at introducing accountability, the explicit role played by |accounting language| in the change process has not been emphasised, particularly in the heritage and preservation domain where volunteer labour exercises more power than paid management in a |dialectic of control|. We address this gap by employing a grounded methodology, involving the collection of evidence from interviews, records and observations to document two |strategic planning| attempts in a volunteer-led heritage railway. We observe how the use of |accounting language| (in the form of categories and encryptions) visibly conveys new decision rules and facilitates their acceptance as actors know and play by these new rules. Informed by Giddens| structuration theory concepts, the study also shows how |accounting language| provides the modalities of structuration (meaning, moral order and power) bringing new |languages| and |rules| to the actors as well as creating a |power| shift from volunteers to professional managers in their |dialectic of control|.

Keywords: accounting language; voluntary organisations; meaning; moral order; power; structuration theory; organisational change; heritage railways; volunteer labour; volunteers; strategic planning.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCA.2011.039604

International Journal of Critical Accounting, 2011 Vol.3 No.1, pp.26 - 62

Published online: 21 Oct 2014 *

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