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Competing for the leading role: Trials in categorising greenhouse and energy auditors

Xu, Shirley; Andrew, Brian

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Brian Andrew


This paper considers the inter-professional rivalries that took place as the Australian federal government attempted to register a pool of greenhouse and energy auditors and establish a multidisciplinary team structure for emissions-related reporting and trading schemes from 2007-2019. Drawing on the notions of trials (Callon, 1986; Latour, 1987) and criticism in trials (Bourguignon & Chiapello, 2005), we show how the government’s attempts in classifying and determining expert roles and responsibilities from engineering, environmental, and financial backgrounds – with a preference for Big 4 accountants in leadership roles – triggered a series of multi-lateral trials of strength and responsibility, and essentially failed to meet its original purpose. By following the regulatory process, we articulate how terminology and measurement devices were mobilised by the regulator to enrol mixed expertise. We also examine how the envisaged identities, roles, and responsibilities were received by lobbyists from the three expert groups, and then how their concern, criticism, and resistance were acted upon and reacted to by the regulator. Our study reveals the dilemma the non-expert government faced in mediating the conflicting interests and goals while fulfilling its regulatory and administrative roles. Our nuanced evidence shows how accounting team leaders role of supervision rather than oversight evoked further controversy. The study contributes to understanding what happens when conflicting knowledge claims and criticisms meet in a multidisciplinary regulatory regime.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 19, 2020
Online Publication Date Apr 10, 2020
Publication Date 2021-06
Journal Critical Perspectives On Accounting
Print ISSN 1045-2354
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 77
Article Number 102180
Keywords greenhouse and energy audit, trials of strength and responsibility, categorisation and enrollment, criticism and claims of bias
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