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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper questions a key assumption in the organizations literature that thedynamism of institutional logics and practice variations is the result of rivalryamong logics and actors, of tensions and institutional shifts, and of the agencyof institutional entrepreneurs. This study examines in rich historical detail thedevelopment of accounting in the Jesuit Order, illustrating how Jesuit accountingstarted from a rationality that did not presuppose an external orderingprinciple; instead, Jesuit rationality was unfolding—founded in continuousinterrogations informed by common, purposeful procedural logics stemmingfrom rhetorical practices used to classify, recall, and invent knowledge. Iexamine 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, andhow 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 organizationalcontexts in which their missions operated. Jesuit rationality was thus unfolding,a persistent and recursive mode of governing social behavior and searchingfor organizational order that generated large-scale administrative routinesand institutional dynamism while never fully achieving that order. The analysisbrings into question our understanding of the historical and institutionalgenealogies of modern rationality and its taken-for-granted link withProtestant ethics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-445
Number of pages35
JournalAdministrative Science Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2015


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


Dive into the research topics of 'Governing social orders, unfolding rationality, and Jesuit accounting practices: A procedural approach to institutional logics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this