Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore how the framing of numbers may be related to the distance between the information provider and information users. Design/methodology/approach – The design of the paper is a case study, in an organizational situation where there are perceived problems in producing stable inscriptions for reporting to users at a distance. The study focuses on the top management level in a small‐sized publicly‐funded theater. The qualitative research design incorporates interviews, observations and document analysis. Findings – The paper illustrates how knowledge and understanding of the circumstances of measurement form a substantial part of what constitutes “distance” between an accounting user and the referred context. It is argued that the framing of numbers may be utilized as a means to control action at a distance. The findings also imply that the use of measurements regarding intangibles may be perceived as useful for purposes beyond internal management. Originality/value – The paper contributes in two ways to prior research on accountability relations and accounting as an enabler of action at a distance: it elaborates on what constitutes a distance, and it also adds an emphasis on reciprocal behavior by the provider of information in an accountability relation.
Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 1, 2011
Keywords: Information management; Information transfer; Accounting users “at a distance”; Framing of numbers; Intangible performance; Measurement; Theatre
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