Moral Accounting by Organizations: A Process Study of the U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission

62 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2017

See all articles by Chad Murphy

Chad Murphy

Oregon State University

Shubha Patvardhan

University of Delaware

Joel Gehman

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization

Date Written: December 13, 2016

Abstract

We take an inductive approach to understanding the aftermath of crises, namely, the process by which organizations come to be viewed as morally accountable (or not) for such events. We studied the transcripts of the 2009 Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) that investigated the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. Our findings revealed a dynamic we call moral accounting, a process whereby supposed wrongdoers encounter narrative and situational constraints that make it difficult, if not impossible, to fully account for the (im)morality of their actions, a position that often induces moments of disorientation that only reinforce the perception of wrongdoing. To push back against such perceptions, supposed wrongdoers use rhetorical strategies and sentence-level linguistic tactics, which can likewise reinforce the perception of wrongdoing. Overall our model suggests that organizational moral accountability is not simply assigned, accepted, or denied — rather, it is negotiated via an iterative, discursive process.

Keywords: Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, Moral Accounting, Qualitative Research, Rhetorical Strategy

JEL Classification: M14

Suggested Citation

Murphy, Chad and Patvardhan, Shubha and Gehman, Joel, Moral Accounting by Organizations: A Process Study of the U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (December 13, 2016). Forthcoming, Journal of Management Inquiry; University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2016-912. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3022694

Chad Murphy

Oregon State University ( email )

Shubha Patvardhan

University of Delaware ( email )

Newark, DE 19711
United States

Joel Gehman (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada
(780) 248-5855 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.joelgehman.com

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