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Accounting, Hybrids and the Management of Risk
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Essay fra The Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation


This essay addresses the implications of accounting and hybrids for the management of risk. It suggests that the management of organizations is rapidly being transformed into and formalized around the management of risk, while much of the real management of risks occurs elsewhere. We argue firstly and most generally that hybrids in all their varied forms are one of the key sites where uncertainty is managed beyond the formalized practices of risk management. Secondly, we argue that the management literature on hybrids has been too focused on organizational forms, and has neglected the hybrid practices, processes and expertises that make possible lateral information flows and cooperation across the boundaries of organizations and firms. Thirdly, we argue that accounting practices are central to these issues, yet these practices are often neglected by the wider management and organizational literatures. Accounting, we suggest, is constantly engaged in a dual hybridization process: seeking to make visible and calculable the hybrids that it encounters, while at the same time hybridizing itself through encounters with a range of other disciplines. We address these issues in three stages. In the first section, we draw attention to the key disciplines that have ‘discovered’ hybrids, albeit at different times and in differing ways. In the second section, some selected examples of hybrid practices, processes and expertises are identified and briefly discussed. In the third section, and in conclusion, the implications of accounting and hybrids for the management of risk are considered.

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