Seal, William, Berry, Tony and Cullen, John
Disembedding the supply chain: institutionalized reflexivity
and inter-firm accounting
Accounting, Organizations and Society, 29, (1), . (doi:10.1016/S0361-3682(02)00055-7).
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Pro-active supply chain practices in manufacturing have been affected by general features of institutionalized reflexivity whereby production activities are disembedded by firms whose actions have been enabled by abstract systems such as accounting and quality management. A new consciousness of the centrality of the supply chain creates increased tensions between the trust constructed through abstract systems and the risk associated with the increased reflexivity of supply chain actors. Eschewing traditional distinctions in accounting between the inside and outside of the organization, a structuration approach shows how inter-firm transactions and accounting may be analysed through the duality of structure. The theory is explored through a case of a supply chain initiative in UK electronics manufacturing. The case company set up the cost management group (CMG) which evolved into a semi-autonomous team dominated by accountants. Drawing on the wider institutionalization of supply chain practices involving outsourcing and partnering projects, the CMG became a locus of institutionalized reflexivity. As an important source of financial and cost information in supply chains, the accounting practices espoused by the CMG contributed to both dis- and re-embedding processes.
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