Tracing performance in the pharmaceutical industry: ambivalence, opacity and the performativity of flawed measures

C. DAMBRIN, K. Robson

Accounting Organizations and Society

octobre 2011, vol. 36, n°7, pp.428-455

Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

accepté le 6 juillet 2011In this paper we explore performance measurement practices in pharmaceutical companies with particular reference to the inscribing (or 'tracing') of pharmaceutical representatives ('drug reps') responsible for the promotion of prescription medications to general practitioners and other healthcare professionals. We draw upon Latour's sociology of translation to explore the qualities of the inscriptions practiced in French pharmaceutical companies to control drug reps at a distance. Within the context of regulatory constraints upon drug representatives' activities and the reporting of pharmaceutical prescriptions in France, we analyze the inscriptions devices and explore problems of interessement and instability of 'performance measurement' inscriptions. The paper concludes with a discussion of the concept of stability and how processes of ambiguity, uncertainty and professional identity may contribute to stabilizing inscriptions and tackling problems of action at a distance.