Reflecting on ‘socie-ties’

The etymology of the word ‘society’ suggests that a community is made of allies and companies (from Latin, socius) and are linked by ties. Accounting is one of the most important practices through which communities establish, maintain and reinvent such ties. Given the relevance of accounting for the functioning of contemporary economies and socie-ties, it is difficult to think of any serious form of social innovation without changing the way in which accounts are kept and financial reports are structured. 

I address these issues in a TEDx video on Governing Socie-ties where I make a comparison between corporate vs collegiate forms of governance. I take inspiration from my six years of tenure at Oxford and compare corporate and collegiate environment, gaining great inspirations and insights from observation of governing practices at Christ Church, where I was the tutor in management studies.I also explore such issues in a series of papers on the history of accounting, especially in one (co-authored with  François-Regìs Puyou), which has been recently published in Organization Studies and explores how accounting is instrument to reflect on whether social and economic relationships are proportionate. 

The paper is titled “Figures not Numbers: Legitimacy, Rhetoric, Accounting and the making of ‘socie-ties’” and explores how accounting gains legitimacy thanks to its ability to establish a ratio (i.e. a proportion) amongst members of a community. Ratio, after all, in Latin means ‘account’ not only reason and the ‘Libro delle ragioni‘ was the ledger…

I also practice social innovation through a series of engagements. One that I am particularly attached to involves the development of a space for urban, cultural and social regeneration and inclusion at Palazzo Butera in Palermo.