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Telfer Research Seminar Series and AGRC - Daniel Martinez Wealthier

What they do in the shadows: Accounting and visibility in international development

Date & Time

March 8, 2024


Zoom - link will be sent in reminder email before the seminar


Kathy Cunningham

A group of shadows of individuals that appear to be talking

***M.Sc. Students, this event can count towards one of the six mandatory Research Seminars Series needed to attend (MGT 6191/ MGT 6991 / MHS 6991).***

Daniel Martinez, PhD

Studies have demonstrated how making visible is a central part of how accounting segments and constitutes organizations and the field in which they operate. This article examines, however, how concealment, alongside visibility, is also implicated in this process of constitution. Drawing from a 15-year study of international development in Guatemala and El Salvador, the article shows how complying with the visibility demands of their funders occludes some of the strategies non-governmental organizations (NGOs) use to subvert resources in the quest to insert their mission into their projects and the broader field of international development. They do so, in the shadows: a dark area, a space out of direct sight, relative to the dimension of performance made visible by the light accounting transparency lets in. This, one, underscores how accounting visibility also creates shadows where actors can strategically intervene; it’s a space for agency in a structured landscape. Two, it addresses the challenge of sustaining NGOs’ missions while complying with accountability requirements that often disconnect them from their politics and connections with grassroots social movements. By introducing the concept of shadows in accounting, the article challenges the emphasis given to the power of, and the importance of, bringing everything to light.

About the Speaker

Daniel Martinez, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of accounting and management control at HEC Paris. He researches how accounting information systems are implicated in arranging organizations, technologies, and Daniel Martinez aspirations. His work examines accounting and accountability practices in international development NGOs and social movements organizations through extensive field work in Guatemala and El Salvador. He has also conducted research in the US state of Colorado to examine how accounting is implicated in the creation of markets for contested commodities, such as legal cannabis. He has authored and co-authored book chapters and articles published in Critical Perspectives on Accounting; Accounting, Organizations, and Society; European Accounting Review; Journal of Business Ethics; and VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations. His work has also appeared in publications such as Forbes, Risk & Regulation, Briarpatch, and Canadian Dimension. He is part of the editorial boards of Accounting, Organizations, and Society and Critical Perspectives on Accounting.

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