This article discusses the transversal lines between science and rhetoric and how it is possible to create reliable accounting statements by using rhetoric and not only traditional logic arguments. The underlying assumption in accounting - namely that it is possible to describe a firm completely through numbers - is not sufficient. To give a nuanced description of a firm it is necessary to supplement the traditional accounting statement with descriptions based on other means than just numbers. The article describes the differences in ways of seeing the world through the rhetorical concepts of logos, ethos and pathos and the technical rational approach implying that only one problem, one way and one mean exist. The rhetorical approach sees the world as co-construction and the media is here in the form of narratives. Traditional accounting follows the technical rational approach and the media of representation is calculus and mathematical rules. To illustrate the importance of describing a firm by not only using numbers the article illustrates the differences between intellectual capital statements and traditional balance sheets. The intellectual capital statement is often accused of not being a valid document to assess a company's value by, but this article argues that although intellectual capital statements make use of another way of presenting arguments than traditional balance sheets do they are still valid for describing a firm. The article argues that the intellectual capital statement uses rhetoric and thus should be analyzed accordingly instead of being compared with traditional accounting. Finally, the case of Byggeplandata is used as an illustration of how rhetoric is applied in an intellectual capital statement.
Intellectual Capital Statement; Rhetoric; HHÅ forskning
Main Research Area:
SLS, the Second European Conference of the International Society for Literature and Science, Århus, 2002