This area points to one of the fundamentals of the MOST research project, which adopts a critical research stance and an approach designed to challenge contemporary organisational and commercial phenomena. The objective of the unit’s research is to reveal the socio-organisational mindsets (ideological, political and institutional) and regulatory processes that underpin the dynamics of the social construction of markets and organisations. The work of its team members explores the way management technologies contribute to the construction of society and defends the notion that management tools are never neutral or objective. It emphasises the human and political dimensions beyond the technical dimensions of management tools, as well as the phenomena of self-regulating behaviours and societal dynamics that can emerge as a result. In this way, it encourages readers to question the responsibility of management beyond economic performance alone.
More specifically, this project takes shape in two dimensions: one relating to methodology and the other to the nature of the research subjects to be targeted going forward.
In methodological terms, the historical approaches to management and management tools are a strong reference for the research being done by MOST. New research aims to build on previous studies in order to establish the history of management tools and practices by looking at how they were constructed. For example, as part of the ANR SYSRI-30 project [2016-2019] which involves researchers from history, economics and management and relates to banking during the inter-war period, Pierre Labardin analyses the history of accounting practices in banks.
As already emphasised, MOST’s researchers draw on other forms of methodological expertise, for example the discursive approaches used in the work of Antoine Blanc and Guillaume Johnson, or processing and analysis techniques involving mixed data (qualitative/quantitative) like the QCA method. Colette Depeyre is also exploring techniques for extracting longitudinal web data.
The epistemology and specific methodologies used in critical approaches (reflexivity, researcher engagement, research axiology, self-ethnography, etc.) are also the subject of extensive reflection. For example, as an extension of the ANR ABRIR programme, Stéphane Debenedetti and Véronique Perret are now developing their research to look at “arts-based methods”. A collective text entitled Can art change management? is currently being written and will include a section on the critical and reflexive dimensions specific to these research approaches.
The research being done in the MOST unit prioritises the nature, role and impact of managerial and commercial technologies. The historical, ideological and social dimensions that are reflected in management tools and procedures are the subject of close attention since they provide the framework for the reasoning and practices adopted by people in management positions. This research explores the way management technologies participate in the construction of society and encourages readers to question the responsibility of management beyond economic performance alone.
The research being conducted is applied to the central problems of governance, evaluation, control and performance, with the objective of developing and promoting studies that challenge the performative nature and the conditions for the effectiveness of management procedures and technologies. For example, one research programme with the participation of Frédérique Déjean is currently looking at the evaluation and control of psycho-social risks.
In relation to measurement technologies, research is currently being conducted in the field of accounting with a focus on value, financial and extra-financial reporting and standardisation. The general hypothesis defended here is that accounting is essentially a sociopolitical discipline and that analysis thereof first requires a study of the social forces that shape it. For example, research into standards proposes to focus reflections on the proliferation of standards in many different areas (accounting, prudential, environmental, social, technical, etc.). Its objective is to identify and understand the evolution of regulatory methods (private/public actors, “soft law”, expertise, etc.). For example, research by Céline Michaeïlesco looks at the financial communication practices of major firms. This involves studying the discourse used to address performance in forms of communication such as press releases on earnings or integrated reports (now widespread). The work of Frédérique Déjean looks at the role of the accounting profession (as represented by its professional institutions) in the changes being made to regulations on ESG (environmental, social and governance) reporting. A partnership with the “Ecological Accounting” chair run by Agro Paristech is currently being developed.
On management control technologies, our research is looking at formal (plans, dashboards, etc.) and informal regulatory tools (culture, trust), codification tools (ethics) and categorisation mechanisms. Current research includes an ongoing project with participation by Olivier Charpateau on the nature and role of the ethical sensitivity of directors in private companies. This project aims to establish a link between sociological knowledge about directors and recent developments in ethical decision models. This contribution is eagerly awaited by regulatory bodies with an interest in corporate governance (e.g. IFA, APIA, FBN, Medef), who for a decade now have been trying to professionalise the role of directors. Elsewhere, Guillaume Johnson’s research looks at the role of race as a normative control tool in the market construction dynamic. This project has an international scope and has generated a network of cross-disciplinary researchers working on race in the marketplace (http://www.rimnetwork.net/). A proposal for a session at the EGOS conference in 2018 is currently being considered with a view to increasing the visibility and reputation of this research programme within the international academic community.
Theses currently being written
Clarence Bluntz, ‘De l’utilisation d’outils comptables pour construire et communiquer une valeur environnementale au sein de la relation producteur-consommateur’, under the supervision of Frédérique Déjean
Pauline Beau, ‘Dispositifs de gestion et risques psychosociaux. Une étude qualitative des outils de gestion du risque humain dans les organisations’, under the supervision of Gwénaëlle Nogatchewsky
Antoine Fabre, ‘Comptabilité pénitentiaire et représentation de la réalité : la quantification en action. Le cas des bagnes de Guyane (1859-1867)’, under the supervision of Pierre Labardin
Anne Martin, ‘La mise en place des outils de contrôle de gestion dans les services publics : le cas de l’université’, under the supervision of Gwénaëlle Nogatchewsky.
Géraldine Paring, ‘Le corps dans la construction identitaire : un narratif autoethnographique’, under the supervision of Isabelle Huault
Cécile Petitgand, ‘Construction et appropriation des discours et outils de gestion au sein des entreprises sociales. Le cas d'une organisation brésilienne du secteur de la mode’, under the supervision of Isabelle Huault