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The Organizational Construction of the "Bottom Line"

Kevin J. Delaney
Social Problems
Vol. 41, No. 4 (Nov., 1994), pp. 497-518
DOI: 10.2307/3096986
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3096986
Page Count: 22
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The Organizational Construction of the "Bottom Line"
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Abstract

Using corporate bankruptcy as an example, this article provides an initial catalog of managerial strategies for manipulating the bottom line and assesses the role of intra- and interorganizational power in allowing such manipulation. I develop and assess a "strategic approach" to understanding large corporate bankruptcy, in contrast to more common "reactive approaches," by showing how top managers have leeway in shaping a firm's financial portrait. I suggest that researchers view financial figures as the result of larger organizational strategies and power relations rather than as neutral depictions of firm health. Large corporations that survive bankruptcy may be those most skilled at manipulating financial data, rather than the healthiest corporations. This raises doubt about organizational models premised on natural selection as applied to the largest corporations.

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