Organizational and Epistemic Change: The Growth of the Art Investment Field

46 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2013 Last revised: 26 Apr 2017

See all articles by Erica Coslor

Erica Coslor

University of Melbourne - Department of Management and Marketing

Christophe Spaenjers

HEC Paris - Finance Department

Date Written: September 15, 2016

Abstract

What can studying the creation of knowledge tell us about how new technical fields emerge and develop? This paper shows how a knowledge community may be necessary to support the legitimacy of new products that undergo performance evaluation before purchase. Using historical and ethnographic data covering half a century, we review the growth of the art investment field through an epistemic cultures lens. Technical knowledge about the financial characteristics of art has been developed alongside practical knowledge about how best to structure investment ventures. Investment venture success has been determined by legitimacy as much as by profitability, given durable expectations about the evaluation and monitoring of investments. The growth of knowledge, practices and tools was thus a necessary condition for the recognition of artwork as an asset class. Crucially, the epistemic cultures approach highlights deepening knowledge, resources and professional expertise, and their development through experimentation, failures and negative knowledge. This shows accounting issues contributing to technical field legitimacy and emergence, such as the role of knowledge production, valuation practices and receptive environments, and the distinction between legitimate investments that can be valued and investment venture profitability.

Keywords: Accounting and financial knowledge claims; Art investment; Epistemic cultures; Performance measurement; Technical fields; Valuation practices

JEL Classification: A14, D02, D40, D80, G11, G20, L10, L80, N20, O30, Z11, Z13

Suggested Citation

Coslor, Erica and Spaenjers, Christophe, Organizational and Epistemic Change: The Growth of the Art Investment Field (September 15, 2016). Accounting, Organizations and Society 55, 48-62. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2321627 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2321627

Erica Coslor

University of Melbourne - Department of Management and Marketing ( email )

10th Fl / 198 Berkeley St
University of Melbourne
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

Christophe Spaenjers (Contact Author)

HEC Paris - Finance Department ( email )

1 rue de la Liberation
Jouy-en-Josas Cedex, 78351
France

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