Purpose: The purpose of this study is to contribute to the research related to “the interplay between accounting and the state, politics, and local authorities in the broad government and administration of food for sustainability of populations” (Sargiacomo et al., 2016). Considering contemporary examples and investigating the genealogy of an 18th-century reform of fishery management (the New Plan), the authors explore the role played by accounting and calculative practices when local authorities intervene using forms of discipline based on control systems that acted on commons (fish), people and space. Design/methodology/approach: This paper is historically grounded on archival research on a fish provisioning case during the 18th century in Ancona, an Italian town on the Adriatic coast. The investigation adopts an approach focussed on the use of disciplinary methods in the terms highlighted by Foucault. This perspective offers a lens capable of revealing the key role of accounting in a period when discipline became “general formulas of domination” (Foucault, 1977) and the Papal States were looking for food provisioning solutions (Foucault, 2007). The study highlights similarities with contemporary fishery management. Findings: The paper shows that governability of fishery in a commons' logic is not limited by the properties of the good, but rather “it is achieved through the objects and instruments that are deployed to make it possible” (Johnsen, 2014, p. 429). It reveals forms assumed by economic calculation in different eras and their contribution in the art of governing realised by the state (Hoskin and Macve, 2016). The study unveils how accounting effectively operates using “naming and counting” activities (Ezzamel and Hoskin, 2002) based on a system of documents and accounting registers; these have a pivotal role in redefining fishery management and in keeping goods (fish) and people (fishermen) under control. The investigation also highlights the importance of properly quantifying data in fishery management, confirming the literature on the topic (Beddington et al., 2007, p. 1713). In contemporary situations, data refer to quantifying the fish stock in the sea and the consequent estimation of fish catch. In the historical investigation, although environmental protection was not an issue, quantification refers to the fish that entered the town of Ancona, whose estimation was the result of a new calculative approach adopted by local authorities facing fish needs. In addition, it offers early evidence of organised and rational-based control mechanisms that were the result of Enlightened ideas emerging in the Papal States context. Originality/value: Despite the fact that fish represent a fundamental good for governments to act on in response to a population's needs, there has been no attention paid to how governmental authorities have used disciplinary mechanisms to intervene in fishery management or the role played by accounting. This study's novelty is its investigation of fishery, using Foucauldian disciplinary methods to understand accounting's contribution in fishery governance. In addition, this investigation permits to unveil the role of accounting to support one of the main principles of the governance of commons that is represented by the congruence between rules and local conditions (Fennell, 2011, p. 11; Ostrom, 1990, p. 92).

(2021). Accounting and disciplinary methods in fishery management [journal article - articolo]. In ACCOUNTING, AUDITING & ACCOUNTABILITY JOURNAL. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10446/200750

Accounting and disciplinary methods in fishery management

Servalli, Stefania;
2021

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to contribute to the research related to “the interplay between accounting and the state, politics, and local authorities in the broad government and administration of food for sustainability of populations” (Sargiacomo et al., 2016). Considering contemporary examples and investigating the genealogy of an 18th-century reform of fishery management (the New Plan), the authors explore the role played by accounting and calculative practices when local authorities intervene using forms of discipline based on control systems that acted on commons (fish), people and space. Design/methodology/approach: This paper is historically grounded on archival research on a fish provisioning case during the 18th century in Ancona, an Italian town on the Adriatic coast. The investigation adopts an approach focussed on the use of disciplinary methods in the terms highlighted by Foucault. This perspective offers a lens capable of revealing the key role of accounting in a period when discipline became “general formulas of domination” (Foucault, 1977) and the Papal States were looking for food provisioning solutions (Foucault, 2007). The study highlights similarities with contemporary fishery management. Findings: The paper shows that governability of fishery in a commons' logic is not limited by the properties of the good, but rather “it is achieved through the objects and instruments that are deployed to make it possible” (Johnsen, 2014, p. 429). It reveals forms assumed by economic calculation in different eras and their contribution in the art of governing realised by the state (Hoskin and Macve, 2016). The study unveils how accounting effectively operates using “naming and counting” activities (Ezzamel and Hoskin, 2002) based on a system of documents and accounting registers; these have a pivotal role in redefining fishery management and in keeping goods (fish) and people (fishermen) under control. The investigation also highlights the importance of properly quantifying data in fishery management, confirming the literature on the topic (Beddington et al., 2007, p. 1713). In contemporary situations, data refer to quantifying the fish stock in the sea and the consequent estimation of fish catch. In the historical investigation, although environmental protection was not an issue, quantification refers to the fish that entered the town of Ancona, whose estimation was the result of a new calculative approach adopted by local authorities facing fish needs. In addition, it offers early evidence of organised and rational-based control mechanisms that were the result of Enlightened ideas emerging in the Papal States context. Originality/value: Despite the fact that fish represent a fundamental good for governments to act on in response to a population's needs, there has been no attention paid to how governmental authorities have used disciplinary mechanisms to intervene in fishery management or the role played by accounting. This study's novelty is its investigation of fishery, using Foucauldian disciplinary methods to understand accounting's contribution in fishery governance. In addition, this investigation permits to unveil the role of accounting to support one of the main principles of the governance of commons that is represented by the congruence between rules and local conditions (Fennell, 2011, p. 11; Ostrom, 1990, p. 92).
articolo
Servalli, Stefania; Gitto, Antonio
(2021). Accounting and disciplinary methods in fishery management [journal article - articolo]. In ACCOUNTING, AUDITING & ACCOUNTABILITY JOURNAL. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10446/200750
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