Judgement devices and the evaluation of singularities: The use of performance ratings and narrative information to guide film viewer choice

Michael Bialecki, Susan O'Leary, David Smith

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The focus of this study is to examine how management accounting information is used in the evaluation of singularities. As highlighted by Karpik (2010), singularities represent everyday goods and services that are unique, multidimensional, incommensurable, and of uncertain quality. The paper draws on these underlying properties in investigating how they are evaluated. It does so in the realm of popular culture, a space in which singularities are a common feature, using the example of a particular social phenomenon—that is, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Through the conduct of netnographic and interview-based research, the study explores how management accounting tools embedded within IMDb play a role in shaping diverse social outcomes in relation to popular culture (in this case, the unpredictable and varying film choices of individuals). It further explores how these tools also become constitutive of the core functioning of innovative social phenomena such as IMDb, so as to direct and somehow provide a semblance of order to these social outcomes and the derivation of them. Findings indicate that while the evaluation of singularities such as films are driven by a reliance on quantitative measures, such as the ratings and rankings on IMDb, they also are derived through aligning individual personal interests with that of the ‘information provider’, for example the interests and tastes of reviewers on IMDb. In this respect, our case shows how the problematic nature of imperfect and conflicting performance information can be effectively overcome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-65
Number of pages10
JournalManagement Accounting Research
Early online date6 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

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