Publication Details

Mickhail, G. M. & Davis, K. (2005). The positivist fantasy of MetaCapitalism. 2005 Critical Perspectives on Accounting (pp. 1-27). Baruch College: Baruch College, City University of New York.


The accounting models of measurement are driven by a worldview that privileges the efficient allocation of resources. This view is justified by the scientific claims of objectivity inherent in the Theory of Evolution, which provided the defenders of 'laissez-faire' Capitalism with the intellectual foundations to oppose state interference with market forces, in their pursuit to justify the efficiency imperative. Free markets are problematic because the best outcome is unlikely to be achieved if the efficiency imperative is allowed to dominate aesthetic or human considerations. Economic values have been given overriding priority in public discourse, at the expense of social and cultural values. Art, history and culture are just the obvious victims, to name a few. The ostentatious promise of fair market value with the global implementation of international accounting standards in 2005 may contribute further to the devaluation of anything and anyone who is left to the mercy of markets instability and unpredictability. While there is much debate about the tribulations of the accounting profession, it seems to us that there is little debate about the efficiency imperative as a rationale for accounting measurement. This question is of paramount importance when leading accounting and (their off-shoot) consulting firms are obsessed with efficiency, as their sole salvationary promise in a world driven by global capitalism. MetaCapitalism is one such corporate change strategy that may be considered a generic form of such efficiency obsession. The MetaCapitalist theory of accounting espouses a radical transformation of existing corporate structures, characterized by the creation and maintenance of large bases of physical and human capital, to the MetaCapitalist firm - scarcely capitalised, brand focused, highly flexible, devoted to customer satisfaction, and driven by the internet and e-networks. It is our contention to argue that MetaCapitalism is a positive theory of accounting because its ontological foundations are rooted in realism. It privileges a free, objective and efficient market and excludes the possibility of inter-subjectivity between market participants, as well as the influence of societies underlying power relationships upon the market. The long-term poor performance of MetaCapitalism highlights fundamental flaws within the MetaCapitalist strategy and its scientific methodologies of objectivity and empiricism. This paper contends that under the inherent scientific methodologies within MetaCapitalism, physical and human capital, are viewed as unnecessary expenditures that must be minimized at every level throughout the organization. This dominant perception neglects the qualitative value adding virtues of both employees and physical assets to an organisation. The failure to recognise these qualities limits the information available under scientific methodologies to only what is relevant to the short term, which may explain the long term poor performance of firms dedicated to the MetaCapitalist strategy.