Accounting, Trust and the Government in Labour-Management Negotiations: The Crisis in the Canadian Automotive Industry
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis investigates the role of accounting information in the automotive industry restructuring of 2008 and 2009 in Canada. The crisis in the automotive industry led to government-funded restructurings for two of the top manufacturers in North America, effectively adding the government as a third party to the negotiations. Following a series of negotiations that occurred between AutoCo and UnionA, I conduct a case study that examines the individual actors’ use of accounting inscriptions in negotiations, as well as explore the dynamic interaction between accounting and trust at the negotiation table. The use of actor network theory highlights the individual actors, their actor-networks, accounting inscriptions and the continuous translation process inherent in labour-management negotiations. Accounting inscriptions are shown to play a central role in negotiations, particularly as a forum for bringing the actor-networks together. Furthermore, I explicate the notion of tactical trust, as it emphasizes the assessment, monitoring, and adjustment inherent in decisions to trust actors within dynamic business contexts. I also investigate the roles that the Canadian government played throughout the restructuring of the automotive industry. Through an in-depth case study of the restructuring from its antecedents through to outcomes, the research focuses on the roles of the government officials in the negotiations between the company and the unions, and their use of accounting information. The empirics highlight that the government not only acted at a distance but utilized sovereign power and direct intervention to achieve their objectives in the automotive industry restructuring. I find that the accounting served as the flexible substitute for the government’s presence at the negotiations table while they were acting at a distance and is used as an immutable parameter when the government directly intervened. This paper extends the governmentality literature by highlighting the coercive character of government actions, technologies and programs, and the notion of government in action. I consider the implications of these research findings on the labour-management negotiations, accounting, actor network theory and governmentality literature. In conclusion I also highlight various avenues of future research.