Exploring the craft of visual accounts through arts: fear, voids and illusion in corporate reporting practices

Giulia Achilli, Cristiano Busco, Elena Giovannoni, Fabrizio Granà

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This paper explores the craft of visual accounts in corporate reporting practices through an arts-inspired perspective. We research the subtle mechanisms underpinning the craft of visual accounts since their preparation phase, as these accounts engage with the emotional sphere of their preparers, including the fear and the power struggles surrounding the preparers’ role within the organization. We rely upon an artistic line of inquiry based on baroque art to unpack the voids and absences underpinning accounting visualizations. By drawing on this lens, we examine the case of a large European bank where we investigate the craft of visual accounts in corporate reports from the perspective of the preparers of these accounts. We extend prior studies on the visual and emotional dimensions of accounting by showing that the craft of visual accounts evolves as the preparers of these accounts experience voids in the meanings that they attempt to represent and the fear of being excluded from their role. We also demonstrate that the mixed emotions of fear and self-celebration, illusion and disillusion experienced by the preparers of accounting visualizations may follow intra-organizational power struggles in between the different organizational roles involved in corporate reporting. In so doing, we reveal how the philosophical underpinnings of artistic movements, such as baroque art, can be drawn upon to critically delve into the power of voids and absences in accounting visualizations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102464
Number of pages20
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Early online date31 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

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