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KEMI 2070A - Innovation in Accounting

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 12

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

The course is a reflection on the nature of accounting – on its varied forms and on its uses by economic actors. It considers a number of major accounting innovations, from the emergence of double-entry bookkeeping in the early modern times to the latest fair value accounting standards, via standard costing and return-on-investment. In doing so, it shows that new accounting techniques are invented as solutions to highly contextual problems, but also often have effects well beyond the context of their invention. Accounting innovation cannot be considered as a linear progress towards more reliable and relevant reports on business activities. It is rather a messy process with unexpected consequences.


GIRAUDEAU, Martin (Assistant Professor, London School of Economics & Political Science)

Pedagogical format

The course is organized around six sessions of two hours each for a class of 30 to 35 students. The conversation with the students revolves around the provided documents, which range from academic articles and case studies to journalistic reports and actual accounting records.

Course validation

There will be both an individual and a collective grade for each student. The individual grade will be based on a one-page written work related to one particular session of the course. A collective contribution is, on the other hand, expected, which can be a “multi-media” product – a blog, a video associated with a short report, etc. Full details and guidelines for these two small exercises will be provided in the first session.


Students are expected to read the weekly course materials prior to each session, to participate in class, and to prepare the short individual and collective assessment pieces.

Required reading

  • Bruce G. Carruthers and Wendy N. Espeland (1991), "Accounting for Rationality: Double-Entry Bookkeeping and the Rhetoric of Economic Rationality," The American Journal of Sociology, 97(1): 31-69 (selection)
  • Theodore M. Porter, Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life (Princeton university press, 1996) (selection)
  • Peter Miller and Ted O'Leary (1994), "The Factory as Laboratory," Science in Context, 7(3): 469-496
  • Kees Camfferman and Stephen A. Zeff, Aiming for Global Accounting Standards: The International Accounting Standards Board, 2001-2011 (Oxford University Press, 2015) (selection)
  • Michael Power, The Audit Society: Rituals of Verification (Oxford University Press, 1997) (selection)

Additional required reading

  • Laux, Christian, and Christian Leuz (2009), "The crisis of fair-value accounting: Making sense of the recent debate," Accounting, organizations and society, 34(6): 826-834
  • Anthony G. Hopwood (1987), "The Archaeology of Accounting Systems," Accounting, Organizations and Society, 12(3): 207-234 (selection)
  • Anette Mikes, Gwen Yu and Dominique Hamel, “Lehman Brothers and Repo 105” (HBS case Study, 2011)
  • Peter Miller and Ted O'Leary (1987), "Accounting and the construction of the governable person," Accounting, Organizations and Society, 12(3), 235-265
  • Kazuhiro Mishina, "Toyota Motor Manufacturing, USA, Inc." (HBS Case Study, 1992)