The Centre for Accounting and Society (CAS) aims to study how accounting, the accounting profession and various calculative practices impact on the management and governance of organizations, cultural formations, and the definition of economic and social relationships.
The Accounting and Finance Group at the University of Edinburgh Business School has a long and established research tradition in the area of interdisciplinary studies of accounting. By drawing upon this tradition, and on exceptionally strong relationships with professional and accounting bodies, CAS aims to become a world leading centre of excellence in researching the organizational, social, historical, cultural and technical aspects of accounting.
Accounting is ubiquitous. From individual pay-slips to accounts of national debt, via various kinds of performance measures, we are constantly surrounded by accounting calculations that report on, and scrutinise individual, organisational and social actions, re-defining them in financial and numerical terms.
While there is a general tendency to view accounting and financial data as neutral and objective, resulting from mundane practices of calculation, evidence has shown that this is never the case.
The recurrence of accounting scandals questions approaches to transparency and have deep social and economic consequences. The increasing need for compliance at the expense of judgment, the lack of debate about quality of data produced in siloed financial functions and the recent negotiations on the Greek debt have provided evidence for reflecting on how financial calculations are always embedded in organisational, social and political contexts.
Accounting calculations matter as much for the effects that they generate as the information that they provide.