The Boundary Problem in Management Accounting: Moving Beyond Individual Ethics and Compliance
Washburn University. School of Business
Kaw Valley Bank
This paper looks at the problematic nature of intertwined boundaries as they have evolved over time. Traditional accounting literature takes firm boundaries as self-evident and is reluctant to question current institutional structures. An overview of the management contributions of Robert Owen and Henry Ford are used to demonstrate the overlap between private and public interests in earlier industrial and consumer societies. This sets the stage for a discussion of problematic boundaries in a digital surveillance culture where management not only strives to control worker and consumer behaviors, but is also subject to reverse surveillance. The paper concludes that if the accounting profession does not pay more attention to the overlapping nature of boundaries, it risks having its voice become more and more irrelevant to conversations about significant issues inherent in a digital society.