Audit, Management Consultancy and the New World Order: The new spaces and subjects of international accountancy

Cris Shore (Goldsmiths)
Tom Baker (University of Auckland)
Nicolas Lewis (University of Auckland)
Senate House - Court
Saturday 6 June, 14:30-16:00, 16:30-18:00

Short abstract:

This panel examines how international management and accountancy firms are reshaping organisations and society and the new spaces and subjects they create. We ask, how are these firms blurring boundaries between the public and private spheres, forging new global relations and defining the future?

Long abstract:

In a world where rapid change and unprecedented disruption are the new normal, we inspire confidence and empower change in all we do' (KPMG) Anthropologists and geographers share common concerns with understanding the processes shaping contemporary organisations and society. The Big Four international accountancy firms are key actors in these processes. Over the past decade, these firms have transformed themselves from professional auditors to management consultants working in the interstices between the private sector and the state. Operating in over 150 countries, they claim to help governments and private companies use resources more efficiently, effectively and accountably to address society's major challenges. From a geographical perspective, these firms are pivotal in remaking economic relationships between the local and the global. From an anthropological perspective, they are creating new audit cultures and subjects of surveillance. From both perspectives they are central to the production of contemporary spaces of capitalism. These companies promote themselves as experts in addressing major social risks and challenges, but are they becoming the problem rather than the solution? This panel asks: • What expertise do these companies offer and how are they changing organisations and working practices? • How are these companies blurring the boundaries between the public and private sector and redefining knowledge production? • Whose interests do they serve? • How important are they in defining the contours of a new world order? We invite papers that reflect critically, empirically or theoretically on the work of international accountancy and advisory firms and their world-making activities.