Wards Accounting Seminar with Professor Noriaki Okamoto

Hierarchy and Heterarchy in Valuation: How Practitioners Learn to Calculate Commensurable Social Impact

Wednesday 28th of September. 14:00-15:30
Main Building Wards Library

Noriaki Okamoto is a professor of accounting in the College of Business at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, Japan. He received his PhD from Kobe University in 2006. He is currently a visiting scholar at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His main research interests lie in the social, political, and institutional aspects of accounting and finance. He is currently working on the topic of accounting for social impact with the support of a research grant from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Grant number: 22K01796). His articles appeared in journals including Accounting Forum, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Journal of Economic Methodology, and Research in Accounting Regulation. He also published dozens of articles in Japanese.


Organizational social performance now attracts stakeholders’ attention worldwide, and ‘impact investment,’ or ‘social impact investment,’ has become an eminent topic among investment practitioners (e.g., Cohen, 2021; Ebrahim, 2019; Epstein and Yuthas, 2014; Jones et al., 2022). Simultaneously, the identification and measurement of social impact have become crucial but challenging, given the lack of a single, widely accepted measurement framework. This study considers how accounting extends its sphere to embrace a new impact measurement framework that might differ from that of traditional accounting institutions. Although there are several theoretical approaches that can be employed to consider accounting for social impact, the present study particularly focuses on the ongoing shift of corporate performance analysis away from the perspective of hierarchy and heterarchy (Stark, 2009). As a comparative structure, hierarchy normally consists of vertical rankings through quantification with objective numbers. By contrast, heterarchy generally represents a horizontal exploration of alternative metrics. From that standpoint, this study presents an in-depth analysis of how the practice of social impact measurement is realized among practitioners through a participatory observation of short training seminars on social impact analysis. The analysis reveals that both the bounded flexibility and a specific material valuation device are significant in the transition from heterarchy to hierarchy in calculating commensurable social value.

For further information, please contact business-school-research@glasgow.ac.uk

First published: 11 September 2022