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Mark Runnalls

First Name: Mark
Surname: Runnalls
Department Dept of Accounting and Corporate Governance
Supervisor(s): Professor James Guthrie , Professor Jan Mouritsen

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Paper Title

Accounting in an entrepreneurial, employee owned company.


This proposal seeks to explore beyond the purely cognitive explanation of accounting and examine a reflexive account of how accounting is performed. I am interested in how accounting creates emotional effects (and vice versa) and how those effects are constituted e.g. fear, surprise, anger, acceptance or expectancy? Specifically, I am following the budgeting process. The company I am researching budgets monthly in real time rather than the traditional annual process. The management team adjusts annual targets based on performance to date, market developments and company initiatives. Traditionally budgeting (and accounting) is focused on the negative emotional spectrum, employees must be ‘forced, coerced or pressured’ into alignment with the owner’s expectations. Fear of consequences is assumed to drive employee behaviour. What happens when budgeting (and accounting) is focused on the positive emotional spectrum? When it is used to set challenging targets that are intended to motivate, engage and bond the employee to the organisation? How is accounting different in such circumstances and what impact does that have on decision-making?


Accounting and emotionality is a comparatively new topic but this research builds on work within the existing actor-network/practice research stream.

Key literature/theoretical perspective

Actor-Network Theory, performative theory.


Qualitative, case study over 12 months.


None yet.

Research limitations/implications

A single case study cannot be used to infer generalisable findings. However it can be used to draw inferences about a particular context and therefore has validity and usefulness.

Practical and Social implications

What would accounting look like if it was used to inspire, motivate, encourage and tap into people’s innate capabilities rather than to coerce, pressure, force and threaten people within companies?


Accounting, emotionality, Actor-Network Theory