Calculative Technologies and Accountability: The SEC’s Interactive Data Project

40 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2010

See all articles by Alan Lowe

Alan Lowe

School of Accounting; Aston University - Aston Business School - Finance and Accounting Group

Joanne Locke

University of Birmingham - Department of Accounting and Finance

Andy Lymer

University of Birmingham - Department of Accounting and Finance

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 26, 2010

Abstract

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States mandated a new digital reporting system for US companies in late 2008. The new generation of information provision has been dubbed by Chairman Cox, ‘interactive data’ (SEC, 2006). Despite the promise of its name, we find that in the development of the project retail investors are invoked as calculative actors rather than engaged in dialogue. Similarly, the potential for the underlying technology to be applied in ways to encourage new forms of accountability appears to be forfeited in the interests of enrolling company filers.

We theorise the activities of the SEC and in particular its chairman at the time, Christopher Cox, over a three year period, both prior to and following the ‘credit crisis’. We argue that individuals and institutions play a central role in advancing the socio-technical project that is constituted by interactive data. We adopt insights from ANT (Callon, 1986; Latour, 1987, 2005b) and governmentality (Miller, 2008; Miller and Rose, 2008) to show how regulators and the proponents of the technology have acted as spokespersons for the interactive data technology and the retail investor. We examine the way in which calculative accountability has been privileged in the SEC’s construction of the retail investor as concerned with atomised, quantitative data (Kamuf, 2007; Roberts, 2009; Tsoukas, 1997). We find that the possibilities for the democratising effects of digital information on the internet has not been realised in the interactive data project and that it contains risks for the very investors the SEC claims to seek to protect.

Keywords: Accountability, Interactive Data, SEC

JEL Classification: G38

Suggested Citation

Lowe, Alan and Locke, Joanne and Lymer, Andrew, Calculative Technologies and Accountability: The SEC’s Interactive Data Project (November 26, 2010). Finance and Corporate Governance Conference 2011 Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1715514 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1715514

Alan Lowe (Contact Author)

School of Accounting ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

Aston University - Aston Business School - Finance and Accounting Group ( email )

Aston Triangle
Birmingham, B47ET
United Kingdom

Joanne Locke

University of Birmingham - Department of Accounting and Finance ( email )

Birmingham B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Andrew Lymer

University of Birmingham - Department of Accounting and Finance ( email )

Birmingham B15 2TT
United Kingdom

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