Doctor of Philosophy
School of Accounting and Finance
Mickhail, George, The MetaCapitalism spectacle, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, School of Accounting and Finance, University of Wollongong, 2013. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/4007
Purpose The spectacular Internet Bubble that burst in 2000 makes the latest 2008 global financial crisis seem persuasive in its reflection of the same flawed logic, which prompted all other crises and bubbles in-between. The flawed logic of a globalised electronic free-market economy is built on the premise that disruptive Internet innovation would enable seamless electronic transformation of corporations, and their interconnectedness and collaboration across the ‘electronic’ demand and supply chains (outsourcing non-core and at times core activities), which would free up corporate capital resources to decapitalise non-core assets. However, when we look more closely at the facts of the past twenty or so years, the theoretical surface no longer seems smooth with the shift from a virtuous circle of industrialised value creation and job creation, where businesses were prospering, employment expanding and communities thriving to a post-industrial globalised world. This new economic world order is where corporations moved to lower-cost regions and production capability became distributed more widely, and as we get closer to the evidence of leaner but meaner working conditions, more responsibilities and fewer staff, longer working hours, stagnant salaries, smirking bean counters promising more cuts, and powerless nation-states in the face of an increasingly weakened link between business growth and local job growth, cracks begin to appear. This thesis examines such resource allocation tensions, which are often articulated in socio-economic, political, technological or ethical rationales, with accounting arbitrarily ‘calibrating’ their parameters. These parameters may include age, time limits, useful lives, budgetary and efficiency constraints. The purpose of which is to privilege and legitimize parochial power structures over deep-seated inequities of resource allocation.
Design/Methodology/Approach Accounting is a complex communicative symbolic exchange of interests that obfuscates the potency of our role, in the pacification and de-politicisation of resource allocation tensions. The spectacle of international and regional wrangling over economic governments’ bailouts and rescue packages due to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and the continuing European Debt Crisis, only overwhelms its observers and disconnects them from the powers that control their lives. The disenfranchised populace are out in force voicing their discontent, but nevertheless are completely oblivious to who should be blamed for their miserable condition. Some blame politicians and foreign governments, while others blame corrupt institutional structures and financial institutions, and so forth. All the while, the spectacle and its euphoria go on, away from the perpetrators of exploitation and injustice. The contemporary nature of MetaCapitalism that has its intellectual underpinnings in the contentious neoliberal ideology, lends itself to an exploratory approach in its study so as to clarify and define its problematic nature. This thesis develops an exploratory evaluating methodology that provides an analytical critique of the subjective-objective complexities of the MetaCapitalism model assumptions, so as to provide evidence of the model’s success or failure.
Findings Presented in this way, the story sounds historically compelling, logically consistent and empirically convincing – but only if I can establish one basic fact: the global process of ‘financialisation’ has been led by the United States. Its liberalisation and deregulation of financial markets in favour of self-regulatory regimes, have failed to avert the recurrence and intensity of financial crises. This is the starting point. So let’s look at the evidence. MetaCapitalism change strategy has exacerbated the intensity and frequency of structural resource allocation changes within the largest global corporations and this has amplified their market volatility. The Big 4 audit firms, who monopolise 85 per cent of the global audit market, have failed their agency role within the financial markets. The findings from the analysis of nearly 70,000 corporations reveal that they have failed to recognise the complexity of the new technological structural changes to resource allocation, even after analysing their conventional analytical methods, which should have signalled the problems. How could they have missed those signals when giving unqualified opinions of the audited financial reports of corporations, which have subsequently collapsed or had to be bailed out within less than a few months from the issuance of the audit report?
Originality/Value The scale of the study, breadth of the analysis, and novel critique of the new technological business changes and their neoliberal ideological underpinnings, are some of the contributions of this research. However, one of the most important contributions of this research is the development of a corporate performance evaluation method, which exposes the culpability of the Big 4 audit firms in their failure to fulfil their entrusted agency role in the financial markets.