Optimising ‘cash flows’: Converting corporate finance to hard currency

Théo Bourgeron*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Following recent works that have underlined the increasing search for liquidity in economic exchange, this article studies how illiquid forms of money are converted into liquid forms by corporate finance actors. In the name of ‘shareholder value’, the various forms of value generated by companies (such as ‘trade credit’) tend to be increasingly transformed into liquid forms of money that are easily distributable to shareholders (‘cash flows’). Describing this phenomenon as an example of what anthropologists of money call ‘conversion’, this paper highlights how such a conversion process was necessary for the historical development of ‘shareholder value’ policies in corporate finance. Considering documentary sources and interviews with consultants, auditors, and private equity fund managers involved in ‘cash flow’ optimisation practices, this paper details this conversion phenomenon and shows how it has relied on the historical elaboration of specific metrological, technical, legal, and moral norms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-208
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cultural Economy
Issue number3
Early online date21 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • anthropology of money
  • cash flows
  • monetary conversion
  • corporate finance
  • shareholder value


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