The project was completed in December 2016.

Denoted by expressions such as transparency and measurability, the portrayal of one’s business in a correct and fair manner has become a widespread and hegemonic notion that is hard to oppose. Management tools promoting such values aim at improving internal effectiveness as well as to meeting requirements of the external environment. The current CSR trends and all management system standards for 'stakeholder engagement' is an expression of this trend where environmental and human rights organizations' perspective, for example, is included in the management system of organizations. To enhance these purposes, more formal organization is needed: establishment of new categories for stakeholders inside and outside organizations. The increased formalization of organization is often described as a win-win solution for everyone (management, employees, customers, society at large).

In the project, running in 2012–2016, we problematize this simplified picture and pose two questions about the consequences of this increased formalization of organization: 1) How do organizations establish categories for their 'relevant stakeholders' when introducing management standards with a stakeholder perspective? 2) What (hidden) consequences can be observed in the perspective of the categorized stakeholders due to the chosen categorization? The Swedish Social Insurance Agency [Försäkringskassan], which in 2012 launched a major management control change program, was chosen as a main case. The dynamics characterizing the SIA at the time offered ample opportunities to examine categorization in the making. In addition, studies have been made of a number of Swedish state agencies and of municipal pre-schools and urban development. Through these studies we examined how stakeholders were categorized according to various management system standards, to generate knowledge about the meaning and consequences of such categories. Theoretically, institutional organization and standardization theory was combined with critical accounting theory and constructivist theory of categorization.

The project is financed by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond).

Project members: Kristina Tamm Hallström (Project Manager), Maria Mårtensson (Stockholm University) and Michael Holmgren (Stockholm University).

Publications (selection)

Holmgren Caicedo, M., Mårtensson Hansson, M., Tamm Hallström, K. (2018). The development of the management accountant’s role revisited: an example from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. Financial Accountability & Management, issue 34:3.

Metzger, J., Soneryd, L., Tamm Hallström, K. (2016) ‘Power’ is that which remains to be explained: dispelling the ominous dark matter of critical planning studies. Planning Theory, 2016 (1), pp 1–20.

Tamm Hallström, Kristina, and Thedvall, Renita (2015). Managing Administrative Reform through Language Work. Implementing Lean in Swedish Public Sector Organisations. Scandinavian Journal of Public Admininstration, 19(2): 89–108, 2015.

Boström, Magnus, Klintman, Mikael, Casula Vifell, Åsa, Soneryd, Linda, Tamm Hallström, Kristina, and Thedvall, Renita (2015). Social Sustainability Requires Social Sustainability. Procedural Prerequisites for Reaching Substantive Goals. Nature and Culture, Vol. 9, Nr. 3, 2015.

Svärdsten, F. (2015). In the absence of detailed steering. A governmental attempt to address the issues of recentralization and detailed performance control. Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration, 19(2), 109-127.

Holmgren Caicedo, Mikael (2014) Defying Interpretation: Dwelling on and Delving into Metonymy. Culture and Organization, 20(3), p. 232-249.