Séminaires de recherche

Testing the limits of Structuration Theory for Accounting Research

Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Intervenant : John ROBERTS
University of Sydney Business School, Australia

10 mai 2013 - HEC Campus, salle T004 - De 14h00 à 16h00

In 1985 I published a paper in Accounting Organizations and Society with Bob Scapens titled Accounting Systems and Systems of Accountability; understanding accounting practices in their organisational contexts. The paper suggested the potential usefulness of Anthony Giddens’ structuration theory for efforts to understand accounting in its organisational contexts. Rather than engage in a further review of the use of structuration theory in accounting, this paper sets out to test our original proposition as to the usefulness of Giddens ideas for accounting research. I explore three points of possible criticism in the paper. That structuration theory does not take the ‘agency’ of accounting sufficiently seriously; that Foucault and Lacan allow us to get much closer to the ways in which accounting information works back upon human subjects; and that Giddens and accounting share a lack of ethics.

“Globalization of Quantitative Policing: Between Management and Statactivism”

Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Intervenant : Emmanuel DIDIER

9 novembre 2018 - HEC Paris - Salle T015 - De 10h00 à 12h00

Information policing seems to be pervading public security police all around the world. This review asks whether this appellation describes a homogeneous set of phenomena. Compstat was the first program to massively computerize policing. The literature reviewed here follows its fate in the United States and, on a global scale, in France, where the program was imported. The review successively discusses the perspective of managers who were favorable to the program and that of “statactivists,” activists who use statistics, who were opposed to it. Despite the many differences intervened during the importation process, especially in the balance of expertise and publicity, some points seem to be common to both contexts, such as the building of a computer infrastructure, a specific use of the data, and the constructive tensions between the police institution and its critics.

Tax Incentive Heterogeneity between Shareholders, Voting Rights Power, and Capital Structure

Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Intervenant : Paul Pronobis
ESCP Europe Business School

19 octobre 2018 - HEC Paris - Salle T004 - De 14h00 à 16h00

Using a sample of public European firms and a multitude of shifts in cross-country taxation data, we examine the influence of individual shareholders’ tax incentives on capital structure. We find that the largest shareholder’s tax incentive for debt positively influences leverage. We also find that the second-largest shareholder’s tax incentive for debt is incrementally relevant for leverage. However, tax incentive heterogeneity between shareholders reduces the positive influence of the largest shareholder’s tax incentive on leverage. Finally, we document that the relevance of the largest shareholder’s tax incentive for capital structure decisions is increasing in the level of voting rights power.

Accounting, Simultaneity and Relative Completeness: The Sales and Operations Planning Forecast and the Enactment of the "Flow of the Product".

Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Intervenant : Reaven YU
University of Sydney

12 octobre 2018 - HEC Paris - Salle T004 - De 14h00 à 16h00

This is a study of the dynamic relations between accounting and an object it enacts. It analyses the construction of a Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) forecast which is involved in attempts to coordinate laterally interdependent production and sales processes (a ‘flow of the product’) which ‘strike back’ and challenge accounting’s inscriptions hereof. This is important because much literature on accounting’s precariousness focuses primarily on how managers read, talk and make sense of accounting when realities it re-presents are absent. This paper analyses accounting when its development and role is an effect of a dynamic interaction with the ‘flow of the product’ which continually reveals new subsistence to be taken into account by accounting. The analysis finds that not only accounting but also the subsistence of the ’flow of the product’ have histories which meet and develop new accountings at so-called crossing points. The study makes two contributions. Firstly, it shows that when realities are ontologically multiple, such as the ‘flow of the product,’ accounting proliferates but neither substitutes a previous one nor competes with other ones; accounting accumulates and become multiple. Therefore, many accountings co-exist in a temporality of simultaneity rather than in one of succession. Here, accountings inscribe the many different time-spaces that proliferate because of the requirement of adaptation to many others with different time-space horizons due to the principle of lateral coordination. Secondly, the study proposes relative completeness as a complementary mechanism to that of incompleteness and instability. Relative completeness here refers to a situation where accounting co-exists with the subsistence of reality that it develops into a decision opportunity. Accounting exists side by side of the subsistence that it makes visible in planning terms. Absences are performative under relative completeness because they have been discovered, inscribed, delegated and topologised along with accounting. Accounting and subsistence are both part of the realities enacted as the ‘flow of the product.’

Accounting for violence: Heterogeneous interests, the crafting of distinctions, and accounting

Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Intervenant : Kalle Kraus
Stockholm School of Economics

14 septembre 2018 - HEC Paris - salle T004 - De 14h00 à 16h00

This paper examines how accounting is implicated in the crafting of distinctions with a view to understanding how sporting organisations manage heterogeneous and potentially conflicting interests. We do so in the context of accounting for violence, examining legislation concerning the payment by Swedish elite football clubs of policing costs with respect to public safety and order on match day. The Public Order Act (1993) stated such costs were payable by entities with a “profitable purpose”. However, the meaning of a profitable purpose has been subject to ongoing contestation by football clubs, which are required to manage both the commercial interests of male elite football and the extensive amateur interests embedded in overarching voluntary sport organisations. Callon and Muniesa’s (2005) proposition guides our research; the materialisation of distinctions is central to accounting in a context of conflicting interests. We follow the crafting of distinctions between the responsibility for the payment or non-payment of policing costs in the Swedish premiere league between 1999-2014. Our narrative is informed by documentary and interview data, which focuses on one of the high-risk Stockholm clubs. We highlight the constructed and contested materiality of the distinctions informing accounting calculations. Our research also has practical implications for sports administrators, demonstrating the importance of distinctions and the role of accounting in managing the potentially contradictory and heterogeneous interests associated with sporting clubs.

Disclosure and Financing Choice: PIPEs vs. SEOs

Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Intervenant : Shiva Sivaramakrishnan
Rice University

15 juin 2018 - HEC Paris - salle X120 - De 14h00 à 16h00

Firms in competitive industries have natural incentives to avoid wide dissemination of proprietary information. We test this proprietary cost hypothesis (PCH) by examining the impact of corporate disclosure policy on a firm’s equity financing choice between Private Investments in Public Equity (PIPEs) and Seasoned Equity Offerings (SEOs). PIPEs offer firms a way to share proprietary information privately with a small group of investors. We employ several concentration and competition constructs to proxy for proprietary costs, but fail to find support to this hypothesis. Consistent with the literature, our results indicate that an “urgent need for cash” explains firms’ choice of PIPEs over SEOs. We also find that firms that choose SEOs over PIPEs are characterized by higher holdings by dedicated institutions, transient institutions and quasi-indexers. However, the PCH does not receive support even after controlling for these other determinants of the financing choice. Finally, we estimate a two-stage endogenous treatment-effect model to explain discounts associated with PIPEs and SEOs. Preliminary results indicate that discounts are lower when unobservables (e.g., private information) seem to influence the choice of PIPE over SEO.

Parent−Subsidiary Common Managers and Corporate Tax Planning

Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Intervenant : Xin Wang
Hong Kong University

8 juin 2018 - HEC Paris - salle T004 - De 14h00 à 16h00

As an interesting but neglected governance mechanism of a firm’s subsidiaries, corporate headquarters managers often take a position in significant subsidiaries (“parent-subsidiary common manager” hereafter), either as the board member or the operations manager. These parent-subsidiary common managers have direct access to divisional information and, therefore, possess greater knowledge useful for them to identify tax opportunities and coordinate tax-motivated activities across business units. Using senior executives’ subsidiary positions disclosed in Chinese listed firms’ annual reports, we examine the impact of parent-subsidiary common managers on corporate tax planning and find a lower effective income tax rate for firms appointing common managers. Additional analyses show that the tax-avoiding effect of common managers is more pronounced for firms with more intangible assets, more related-party transactions involving subsidiaries, and more diversified business. Moreover, we find stronger effects for those common managers who take a position in economically significant subsidiaries or subsidiaries entitled to preferential tax treatments. The effect is also stronger when common managers work as operations managers of the subsidiaries. Collectively, our study is the first to analyze the appointment of parent-subsidiary common managers and to show the impact of such an appointment on corporate decisions.

Accounting for tacit coordination

Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Intervenant : Hendrik Vollmer
University of Leicester

25 mai 2018 - HEC Paris - salle T020 - De 14h00 à 16h00

Tacit coordination is a pervasive aspect of accounting practice. This paper teases out insights on tacit coordination from existing scholarship, starting with studies of everyday life accounting, then turning to professional practice. It develops an understanding that, in the application of rules and accounting standards, in producing, framing, auditing and using statements, records, apologies or excuses, accounting practitioners tacitly coordinate towards the passing of accounts. This passing can be articulated in terms of structures, agencies and processes of tacit coordination involved in making accounting happen. The implications of this understanding of accounting practice and the importance of the wider domain of enquiry it is indicating are discussed with respect to the stewardship position of accounting professionals and to the further development of accounting theory. The paper identifies a need for broad-based forms of accounting theory to support accounting practitioners in the stewardship of silence and provide an antidote against the idea that any account, any slice of information, or any amount of ‘big data’, could speak for itself – or that it should.

“Processing the Future: Venture Project Evaluation at the American Research and Development Corporation (1946–1973)”

Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Intervenant : Martin Giraudeau
LSE/Sci. Po

4 mai 2018 - HEC Paris - salle T025 - De 14h00 à 16h00

This chapter is an analysis of the project appraisal procedures in place at American Research and Development Corporation (ARD) between 1946 and 1973, under the management of Georges F. Doriot. It shows the importance of knowledge technologies and administrative procedures in the way the venture capital company dealt with uncertain futures. The origins of these knowledge practices are traced back to Georges F. Doriot’s own views on business, and more generally to the pragmatist movement in business administration, of which he was a member. The conduct of project appraisal at ARD is then observed directly, and this reveals its reliance on a rich set of knowledge and diagnostic techniques, as well as administrative procedures. These observations allow for a specification of the nature and role of imagination in the entrepreneurship and venture capital practices examined here—in particular, its close relationship with organized knowledge.

“States of Mind: the many forms of government influence on the Accounting Profession in China”

Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Intervenant : Crawford Spence
King’s College London

20 avril 2018 - HEC Paris - salle T004 - De 14h00 à 16h00

Literature examining dynamics between the State and the Accounting Profession is well established and points towards the crucial interrelations between the two. However, this literature evinces an occidental orientation, privileging the notion of a State characterised by self-limiting, liberal ideology and that is captured by dominant interests. An extension of this view portrays professional bodies as largely autonomous from State structures and effectively avatars for said dominant interests. This paper starts from the premise that studying State-Profession dynamics in China has the potential to invigorate this literature given the non-liberal, expansive nature of the Chinese State and the situation of a professional body that is effectively under the tutelage of the Ministry of Finance. Drawing on archival analysis and interviews with over 60 regulators, State actors, practitioners in local and foreign firms in China, we show that the State successfully shapes the accounting profession by performing multiple roles: as field-maker, as regulator and as a consumer of accounting services. Accounting firms, in turn, need to develop variable strategies in order to successfully position themselves in the face of this complexity. Conceptually, this permits us to demonstrate that the State is a deep rooted cultural phenomenon existing in the cognitive structures of key actors in the accounting field in China, thereby drawing attention to further reaching forms of State influence than have hitherto been recognised in extant literature analysing State-Profession dynamics.

Strategic trading at the preopening after earnings announcements

Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Intervenant : Shai Levi
Tel Aviv University

23 mars 2018 - HEC Paris - Salle T004 - De 14h00 à 16h00

Prior literature finds the price adjustment after earnings announcements is not immediate. This paper shows that informed investors act strategically to prevent their information from immediately affecting prices after announcements. Specifically, we examine the price discovery at the preopening auction after earning announcements. We show that traders place more orders at the end of the preopening after earnings announcements, a behavior that reduces the market’s ability to learn their information, and we find they profit from these late orders.

Managerial Power and CEO Pay

Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Intervenant : Robert F. Göx
University of Zurich

16 mars 2018 - HEC Paris - salle T004 - De 14h00 à 16h00

We study the consequences of the CEO’s power over the board of directors in the context of a standard agency model. Our results indicate that a CEO-friendly board affects the structure of the optimal compensation contract in a more subtle way than suggested by the managerial power approach. First, we find that the optimal compensation level is not an increasing function of the CEO’s power. According to our analysis, a friendly board generally raises CEO pay for low performance levels but reduces it for high performance levels. Second, we find that the pay-performance sensitivity (PPS) typically varies with the firm’s performance. Third, we identify conditions for which the optimal contract implemented by a friendly board exhibits a higher PPS than the contract that maximizes the utility of shareholders. As a special case of the general model, we derive an optimal quadratic contract. In this setting, a more friendly board always proposes a contract with a higher salary, more stocks, and the same number of options. In an extension of our base model, we examine how a friendly board affects the optimal use and the rules for aggregating multiple performance measures into a single performance index. While we find that both decisions are generally not affected by the friendliness of the board, we identify conditions under which the sensitivity of CEO pay-to-peer-performance is increasing in the CEO’s power over the board. Overall, our results suggest that neither high pay levels nor the magnitude of the sensitivities of the CEO’s pay to the firm’s own performance or the performance of its peers can be taken as indicators for or against the soundness of firms’ compensation practices without relating these measures to the realized values of the performance measures used in the optimal compensation contract.

Societal Trust and Corporate Tax Avoidance

Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Intervenant : Kiridaran Kanagaretnam
Schulich School of Business

14 mars 2018 - HEC Paris - salle T004 - De 14h00 à 16h00

Using an international sample of firms from 25 countries and a country-level index for societal trust, we document strong evidence that societal trust is negatively associated with tax avoidance, even after controlling for other institutional determinants such as home country legal institutions, capital market development, and tax system characteristics. We then explore the effects of two country-level institutional characteristics – strength of legal institutions and capital market pressure – on the relation between societal trust and tax avoidance. We predict and find that the relation between trust and tax avoidance is more pronounced when the legal institutions in a country are weaker and the capital market pressure is stronger. Finally, we examine the relation between societal trust and tax evasion. We show that societal trust is negatively related to tax evasion, an extreme and illegal form of tax avoidance, and the negative relation is more pronounced when the legal institutions are weaker.

The Effect of Exogenous Information on Voluntary Disclosure and Market Quality

Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Intervenant : Ilan Guttman
New York University

9 mars 2018 - HEC Paris - salle T004 - De 14h00 à 16h00

We analyze a game in which a firm chooses whether to disclose information, knowing this information may be published by a third party, such as an analyst. We analyze how the firm's disclosure strategy is affected by probability of disclosure by the third party; we refer to this probability as analyst coverage. Under plausible assumptions, analyst coverage crowds out disclosure. Despite the crowding out effect, we argue that an increase in analyst coverage increases aggregate information. We base this claim on
two measures of information in prices. The first is statistical in nature while the second relies on liquidity in a model in which following information disclosure there is trade. We show how an increase in analyst coverage increases liquidity as measured by the bid ask spread.

Real Externalities of Mandatory Disclosures: Evidence from the Oil and Gas Industry

Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Intervenant : Bjorn Jorgensen
London School of Economics

26 janvier 2018 - HEC Paris - Salle T020 - De 14h00 à 16h00

This paper documents real externalities of firms’ mandatory disclosures. We focus our analysis on the regulatory disclosure of oil and gas (O&G) reserves, a setting in which mandatory information is particularly important to understand industry competition. Using a comprehensive sample of Canadian and US O&G producers, we hypothesize and find that larger increases in reserves are accompanied by lower stock returns and increases in investment for competing firms. These findings are consistent with O&G disclosures containing competition-sensitive information. To sharpen identification, we exploit three sources of institutional variation. First, the North-American pipeline infrastructure constrains the supply of natural gas, and thus competition in the gas market, but not the supply of oil. Second, the introduction of the fracking technology substantially altered the competition dynamics in the natural gas market. Third, mandatory O&G disclosure rules were modified in Canada and the US in a similar fashion, albeit at different points in time. Consistent with mandatory disclosure of O&G reserves imposing proprietary costs, we also find that, under the new rules, disclosing firms appear to be less able to exploit their competitive advantage. Overall, our evidence highlights important trade-offs in the market-wide effects of disclosure regulation.

Financialization and the institutional foundations of the new capitalism

Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Intervenant : Bruce Carruthers
Northwestern University

20 octobre 2017 - HEC Paris - salle T004 - De 14h00 à 16h00

One of key features of capitalism as a form of economic organization concerns its ability to change. Innovation often occurs by using old things in new ways, or by taking pre-existing elements and rearranging them into novel configurations [termed ‘conversion’ by Streeck and Thelen (2005, p. 26)]. Change can also happen when old activities are simply discontinued, or when new activities are added [what Mahoney and Thelen (2010, p. 16) call ‘layering’]. Capitalist innovation does not arise ex nihilo, nor does it involve wholesale rejection of the past. As even casual students of contemporary capitalism realize, much of today’s capitalism resembles the old-fashioned kind studied by nineteenth-century social theorists like Marx, Durkheim andWeber. Heavy industry still exists, tangible goods are still manufactured in factories using assembly line methods, commodities are sent around the world via rail or ship, people still make steel and dig coal and iron ore out of the ground, and so on. Nevertheless, a growing number of scholars have identified ‘financialization’ as a significant change: the growth in importance of financial markets and financial institutions, and the increasing involvement of economic actors in financial transactions (Krippner, 2011; Greenwood and Scharfstein, 2013; Philippon and Reshef, 2013). Such transactions consist of traditional activities like lending (e.g. bank loans and bonds) and investment (e.g. equities), but also newer ones involving derivatives and securitization. What is the significance of this change, and what undergirds it?
The markets that organize capitalism are based on a set of underlying institutional preconditions. What do such foundations consist of? Since markets are venues for economic exchange, the first precondition concerns the objects of exchange. What do buyers buy from sellers, and how are these objects constituted? This is not a matter of physical reality since market exchange involves rights over things or services, not necessarily the things or services themselves. But by virtue of private property rights, tangible and intangible objects are commodified and ownership rights over them can be freely transferred from one owner to another.
Second, markets depend on information to suppose an interdependent role structure: buyers and sellers. Markets cannot function without actors willing to act in both of these roles. If everyone wants to sell and no-one wants to buy, then market exchange will not occur. The same is true with only buyers, but no sellers. As Akerlof (1970) showed, asymmetries of information can cause markets to unravel. In his analysis, sellers possessed information that they could not credibly convey to buyers, but the more general problem is that both buyers and sellers seek information about the objects they transact. Too much uncertainty will curtail market exchange. Third, markets depend on regulation that is sufficient to suppose binding agreements. Many bilateral transactions unfold over time, they are not completed ‘on the spot’. For example, one party might receive goods and pay for them later, or someone might pay for goods, and receive them later. In modern markets, contracts are the vehicle typically used to make an agreement formally binding.1 Finally, market economies contain the possibility of failure by firms, who then face bankruptcy. Firms that are unprofitable will eventually close down and cease their activities: their assets will be distributed to their creditors and employees lose their jobs. Corporate bankruptcy or insolvency law provides the means to identify and extinguish failing firms.
Financialization, as I discuss below, involves the modification and rearticulation of these preconditions. Krippner (2011) emphasized the political origins of financialization, but here I explore its institutional basis, an aspect she does not treat. I have listed these preconditions as analytically separable, but in historical fact they were usually linked together. For example, the development of corporate lawenabled fictive individuals to become both owners of property and objects of property rights, where financial instruments functioned as the unit of ownership. A corporation was owned (by shareholders), and their ownership interests could be freely exchanged, but the corporation itself could also own property (for instance, other corporations). With the passage of general laws of incorporation and their modification at the end of the nineteenth century, corporations could own, buy, sell and enter into binding agreements. They could also fail, although limited liability protected the personal wealth of shareholders. In addition, these preconditions are often shaped through public regulation. Regulations may set restrictions on market entry (i.e. on who may act as a buyer or seller in a particular market), set prices or quality standards, standardize the contracts that govern exchange, mandate the provision of certain types of information by market actors or set the terms of market exit. The dynamism of contemporary capitalism stems, in part, from the emergence of new ways to satisfy these preconditions. Through institutional change, capitalism was able to financialize within an overarching framework of private property, information, regulation and failure, maintaining its identity as a distinct economic system. This complex combination of change and continuity unfolded as small variations were amplified into large and often unintended transformations. The outcomes were variably intended.