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Control at a distance as self-control: the renewal of the myth of control through technology

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Abstract

This paper draws on socio-institutional research on accounting technology. It underlines the ability of one type of accounting technology (performance measurement technology) to be a base for control at a distance since this technology links together discourse and calculation. Failures in this link are analysed thanks to a case study of the pharmaceutical industry. The sales teams of eleven global pharmaceutical laboratories located in France are investigated. Translation theory is used as an analytical framework to argue that (1) technologies of control at a distance lead to an illusion of external control, (2) control at a distance is nevertheless fostered by the substitution of individual resources, the codification and the integration exerted by technology, and (3) these features, combined with ideal beliefs relating to technology, lead individuals to develop self-control. Therefore, the illusion of external control developed by technology is compensated by the growing self-control of individuals, which is, in fact, the most efficient way of getting people to do things. Technologies of control at a distance thus act as remote control devices that take part in a pervasive programme of governing individuals.
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Dates and versions

hal-00584561 , version 1 (08-04-2011)

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  • HAL Id : hal-00584561 , version 1

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Claire Dambrin. Control at a distance as self-control: the renewal of the myth of control through technology. 2011. ⟨hal-00584561⟩

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