Governing social orders, unfolding rationality, and Jesuit accounting practices: A procedural approach to institutional logics

Paolo Quattrone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper questions a key assumption in the organizations literature that the
dynamism of institutional logics and practice variations is the result of rivalry
among logics and actors, of tensions and institutional shifts, and of the agency
of institutional entrepreneurs. This study examines in rich historical detail the
development of accounting in the Jesuit Order, illustrating how Jesuit accounting
started from a rationality that did not presuppose an external ordering
principle; instead, Jesuit rationality was unfolding—founded in continuous
interrogations informed by common, purposeful procedural logics stemming
from rhetorical practices used to classify, recall, and invent knowledge. I
examine this concept of unfolding rationality in two areas of Jesuit practices:
spiritual self-accountability and administrative accounting and recordkeeping.
In this Jesuit rationality, the relationships between means and ends, and
how and why behaviors take place, were not anchored permanently in a substantive logic. Instead, procedural logics left individual Jesuits and the community to imagine modes of action in the specific social and organizational
contexts in which their missions operated. Jesuit rationality was thus unfolding,
a persistent and recursive mode of governing social behavior and searching
for organizational order that generated large-scale administrative routines
and institutional dynamism while never fully achieving that order. The analysis
brings into question our understanding of the historical and institutional
genealogies of modern rationality and its taken-for-granted link with
Protestant ethics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-445
JournalAdministrative Science Quarterly
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • rationality
  • institutional logics
  • administration
  • accounting
  • Jesuits
  • rhetoric


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