Publication Details

Upton, D. R. & Arrington, C. E. (2011). Race Matters: Whether We Know It, or Like It, or Not: Implicit Racial Attitudes and Their Effect on Accounting-Based, Balanced Scorecard Performance Evaluations. Critical Perspectives on Accounting Conference (pp. 1-63). Florida: Elsevier.


One of the dominant themes in critical accounting theory over the past two decades has to do with the relation between the construction of human identities and accounting discourse and practices. Though with strong antecedents in Marxist –inspired critique of ideology, genealogical studies (e.g., Miller & O’Leary, 19XX), deconstructive studies (e.g., Shearer & Arrington, 19XX), and critical-rational studies (e.g., Power & Laughlin, 19XX) are examples of different theoretical and methodological ways to probe the constructive force of accounting over human identity and subjectivity. This paper offers a fourth approach grounded in social-cognitive concerns with ways in which implicit attitudes, or more broadly tacit habits of mind, enhance our tendencies to let rationally irrelevant criteria (like race, gender, and class) influence our evaluation of others. The paper reports on the results of an empirical, lab-based study of balanced scorecard evaluations and bonus allocations where race is a treatment effect and where the well-established tenets of Implicit Association Testing (IAT) are used to reveal that there are, indeed, propensities to unwillingly let racial prejudice enter into our accounting-based evaluations of others. These tendencies are more pronounced for some dimensions of the balanced scorecard than they are for others.