Inter- professional categorization in accounting regulation
We examine the SEC’s Modernization of Oil and Gas Reserves project to highlight the role of categories and professional interactions in accounting regulation. Drawing from analysis of regulatory documents and interviews with key actors, we find that accounting and engineering professionals are engaged in mutually reinforcing category (re-) construction. Previous research has emphasized professional competition and neglected the important role of ambiguity, in our case associated with the characteristics of knowledge objects and technologies themselves. We view corporate financial reporting as networked and distributed, where intersecting complementary professional knowledge systems occupy the same reporting and regulatory space. In oil and gas reporting, the practices of identification, classification and estimation are fraught with uncertainty of the object. We find that, as a way to stabilize uncertainty, professionals collaborate on embedding ambiguity within the revised regulations, maintaining the categories, practices and measurement technologies, and acceptable ways of knowing the products.