Theorizing accounting and other [calculative] practices in private equity
: experimenting with Schatzki’s ‘site’ ontology

  • Yeswanth Nama Venkateswwaralu

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis contributes to social studies of finance and accounting (Vollmer, Mennicken, & Preda, 2009) and the practice theory literatures (Feldman & Orlikowski, 2011) by experimenting (Baxter & Chua, 2008) with concepts developed by Theodore Schatzki and demonstrating their relevance and usefulness in theorizing and explaining accounting and other organizational phenomena. Influenced by Schatzki, I have undertaken a sociological investigation of the practices, arrangements, and nexuses forming (part of) the social ‘site’ of private equity (PE). I have examined and explained the organization of practices within the PE industry. More specifically, I have sought to throw light on the practice organizations animating various PE practices. I have problematized a particular aspect of Schatzki’s practice organization framework: ‘general understanding’, which has so far been poorly understood and taken for granted in the accounting literature. I have tried to further explore the concept to clarify important definitional issues surrounding its empirical application. In investigating the forms of accounting and control practices in PE firms and how they link with other practices forming part of the ‘site’, I have sought to explain how the ‘situated functionality’ of accounting is ‘prefigured’ by its ‘dispersed’ nature. In doing so, this thesis addresses the recent calls for research on accounting and control practices within financial services firms. This thesis contributes to the social studies of finance and accounting literature also by opening the blackbox of investment [e]valuation practices prevalent in the PE industry. I theorize the due diligence of PE funds as a complex of linked calculative practices and bring to fore the important aspects of ‘practical intelligibility’ of the investment professionals undertaking investment evaluation. I also identify and differentiate the ‘causal’ and ‘prefigurational’ relations between investment evaluation practices and the material entities ‘constituting’ those practices. Moreover, I demonstrate the role of practice memory in those practices. Finally, the thesis also contributes to the practice theory literature by identifying and attempting to clarify and/or improve the poorly defined and/or underdeveloped concepts of Schatzki’s ‘site’ ontology framework.
Date of Award11 Aug 2014
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAlan D Lowe (Supervisor) & Margaret Woods (Supervisor)


  • private equity
  • ontology

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