Advertisement

Accounting, Soci(et)al Risks, and Public Reason: Governmental Risk Discourses About the ILVA Steel Plant in Taranto (Italy)

  • Alessandro Lai
  • Silvia PanfiloEmail author
  • Riccardo Stacchezzini
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Business and Economics book series (SPBE)

Abstract

The case of the ILVA steel plant in Taranto represents an example of contrasting, incommensurable sustainability issues, explored in terms of “social” and “societal” risks (Asenova et al. in Managing the risks of public spending cuts in Scotland, 2013; Redistribution of social and societal risk: the impact on individuals, their networks and communities, 2015) [Asenova et al. (2015) refer to social risks as the risks of unemployment, and to societal risks as environmental and health risks.]. The case of ILVA has received significant attention for the great amount of dangerous pollutants spread in the environment, as well as the evidence of higher illness and mortality rates in the districts nearest to the plant. In July 2012, the Italian Judiciary halted activity in the steel plant. Four months after, the Italian Government declared the steel plant site as a “Strategic National Interest Site”, and allowed the company to restart its activity. Drawing on governmentality (Foucault in Questions of method, 1991), the paper aims to explore the role of accounting—here broadly intended as calculative practices (Miller in Soc Res 68:379–396, 2001)—in moulding ministerial discourse to support decisions when the governance of contrasting risks is needed to safeguard public interest. Supported by discourse analysis of governmental speech, the research shows that the Italian Government based its decision on various experts’ risk appraisals: accounting shaped governmental discourse by giving more visibility and relevance to “social” risks (i.e. unemployment, economic development, productivity and competitiveness risks), while silencing “societal” ones (i.e. environmental and health risks). Focusing on a case of incommensurable contrasting issues, the findings contribute to show that accounting concurrently plays a significant role in government decisions legitimizing the business continuity through the creation of a specific risk discourse.

Keywords

Social and societal risks Risk governance Governmentality ILVA s.p.a. 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to the editors and the reviewers for their insightful comments and the support provided during the review process. In its earlier version, the article benefited from the feedback provided by the attendees at ERRN 8th European Risk Conference, Katowice, Poland, 20–21 September 2018. While the paper is the result of a joint effort of the authors, Alessandro Lai wrote Sections 5.1 and 6, Silvia Panfilo wrote Sections 1, 4, 5.3 and 5.4, and Riccardo Stacchezzini wrote Sections 2, 3 and 5.2.

References

  1. ARPA: Relazione sui dati ambientali dell’area di Taranto (Environmental data relation about Taranto’s area) (2009)Google Scholar
  2. ARPA: Benzo(a)pirene aerodisperso presso la stazione di monitoraggio della qualità dell’aria di Via Macchiavelli a Taranto – attribuzione alle sorgenti emissive – relazione tecnica preliminare (Benzoapyrene (BaP) analysis at the air quality monitoring station in Macchiavelli street in Taranto - preliminary technical report on the emission sources) (2010)Google Scholar
  3. ARPA: Rapporto Ambiente e Sicurezza 2011 – ILVA Taranto (Environmental and safety analysis) (2011)Google Scholar
  4. ARPA: Emissioni di diossine dal camino E 312: Il risultato della campagna di monitoraggio 2011 (Dioxin emissions from E312 stack: results of the monitoring campaign) (2012a)Google Scholar
  5. ARPA: Cronologia emissioni da impianti agglomerazione ILVA 1994–2011 (ILVA agglomeration plants emissions chronology) (2012b)Google Scholar
  6. ARPA: Relazione tecnica: Analisi delle tendenze di inquinanti nel quartiere Tamburi di Taranto per il 2012 (Technical report for the analysis of pollution in the Tamburi district in 2012) (2012c)Google Scholar
  7. ARPA: Relazione tecnica a seguito di sopralluogo del 2/08/2011 nello stabilimento siderurgico ILVA di Taranto effettuato a seguito di nota del NOE di Lecce prot. N.41/2010 del 2/07/2011 trasmesso da Regione Puglia con nota prot. N. AOO_169_0000412 (Technical report following NOE inspection on 08/02/2011) (2012c)Google Scholar
  8. ARPA et al.: Valutazione del Danno Sanitario Stabilimento ILVA di Taranto ai sensi della LR 21/2012 - Scenari emissivi pre‐AIA (anno 2010) e post‐AIA (anno 2016) (Health damage assessment so called SENTIERI project - ILVA emission scenarios pre- and post-Integrated Environmental Authorization (year 2010 and year 2016)) (2012)Google Scholar
  9. Asenova, D., Bailey, S.J., McCann, C.: Managing the Risks of Public Spending Cuts in Scotland (2013). http://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/public-spending-cuts-scotland-full.pdf
  10. Asenova, D., McKendrick, J., McCann, C., Reynolds, R.: Redistribution of Social and Societal risk: The Impact on Individuals, their Networks and Communities (2015). http://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/social-societal-risk-full.pdf
  11. Bacchi, C., Bonham, J.: Reclaiming discursive practices as an analytic focus: political implications. Foucault Stud. 17, 179–192 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Beck, U.: Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity, vol. 17. Sage, Thousand Oaks (1992)Google Scholar
  13. Beck, M., Asenova, D., Dickson, G.: Public administration, science, and risk assessment: a case study of the U.K. bovine spongiform encephalopathy crisis. Publ. Adm. Rev. 65(4), 396–408 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Biggeri, A.,  Forastiere, F., Triass, M.: Conclusione della perizia epidemiologica (Epidemiological appraisal conclusions) (2012)Google Scholar
  15. Broadbent, J.: Critical accounting research: a view from England. Crit. Perspect. Acc. 13(4), 433–449 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Broadbent, J., Gill, J., Laughlin, R.: Identifying and controlling risk: the problem of uncertainty in the private finance initiative in the UK’s National Health Service. Crit. Perspect. Acc. 19(1), 40–78 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Burchell, S., Clubb, C., Hopwood, A.G.: Accounting in its social context: towards a history of value added in the United Kingdom. Acc. Organ. Soc. 10(4), 381–413 (1985)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Burchell, S., Clubb, C., Hopwood, A., Hughes, J., Nahapiet, J.: The roles of accounting in organizations and society. Acc. Organ. Soc. 5(1), 5–27 (1980)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Carruthers, B.G.: Accounting, ambiguity, and the new institutionalism. Acc. Organ. Soc. 20(4), 313–328 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dean, M.: Risk, calculable and incalculable. Soziale Welt 49, 25–42 (1998)Google Scholar
  21. Dean, M.: Risk, calculable and incalculable. In: Lupton, D. (ed.) Risk and Sociocultural Theory: New directions and Perspectives, pp. 131–159. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Decreto - Legge 3 dicembre 2012, n. 207, convertito in legge 24 dicembre 2012, n. 231: Disposizioni urgenti a tutela della salute, dell’ambiente e dei livelli di occupazione, in caso di crisi di stabilimenti industriali di Interesse Strategico Nazionale (Law-decree 3rd December 2012, n.207, converted into law on the 24th December 2012, n.231: Urgent provisions to protect health, employment levels, in the event of a crisis of industrial plants of National Strategic Interest) (2012)Google Scholar
  23. Douglas, M.: Risk Acceptability According to the Social Sciences (Vol. 11). Russell Sage Foundation (1986)Google Scholar
  24. Dyllick, T., Hockerts, K.: Beyond the business case for corporate sustainability. Bus. Strategy Environ. 11(2), 130–141 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Environment Minister decree: Riesame dell’autorizzazione integrata ambientale n. DVA/DEC/2011/450 del 4/8/2011 rilasciata per l’esercizio dello stabilimento siderurgico della società ILVA S.p.A. ubicato nel comune di Taranto (Re-examination of the Integrated Environmental Authorization  n. DVA/DEC/2011/450 released for the ILVA steel plant of Taranto) (26th October 2012)Google Scholar
  26. EUROFER: European steel in figures 2007–2011 (2011a)Google Scholar
  27. EUROFER: Annual report 2011 (2011b)Google Scholar
  28. European Parliament: The ILVA Industrial Site in Taranto, report produced by the Directorate-General for Internal Policies—Policy Department Economic and Scientific Policy A (2015). http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2015/563471/IPOL_IDA(2015)563471_EN.pdf
  29. Ewald, F.: Insurance and risk. In: Burchell, G., Gordon, C., Miller, P. (eds.) The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality. Hemel Hempstead, Harvester Wheatsheaf (1991)Google Scholar
  30. Foucault, M.: The Archeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language. Pantheon books, New York (1972)Google Scholar
  31. Foucault, M.: Discipline and Punishment. Allen Lane, London (1977)Google Scholar
  32. Foucault, M.: The subject and power. Crit. Inq. 8(4), 777–795 (1982)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Foucault, M.: Questions of method. In: Burchell, G., Gordon, C., Miller, P. (eds.) The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality. Hemel Hempstead, Harvester Wheatsheaf (1991)Google Scholar
  34. Gephart Jr., R.P., van Maanen, J., Oberlechner, T.: Organizations and risk in late modernity. Organ. Stud. 30(2/3), 141–155 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hardy, C., Maguire, S.: Organizing risk: discourse, power, and “riskification”. Acad. Manag. Rev. 41(1), 80–108 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hart, S.L.: Beyond greening: strategies for a sustainable world. Harvard Bus. Rev. 75(1), 66–77 (1997)Google Scholar
  37. Hastings, A., Bailey, N., Bramley, G., Gannon, M., Watkins, D.: The Cost of the Cuts: The Impact on Local Government and Poorer Comunities. Joseph Rowntree Foundation Report, New York (2015)Google Scholar
  38. Hopwood, A.G.: An Accounting System and Managerial Behaviour. Saxon House and Lexington (1973)Google Scholar
  39. Hopwood, A.G.: On trying to study accounting in the contexts in which it operates. Acc. Organ. Soc. 8(213), 287–305 (1983)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hopwood, A.G.: Accounting calculation and the shifting sphere of the economic. Eur. Acc. Rev. 1(1), 125–143 (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hopwood, A.G., Miller, P.: Accounting as Social and Institutional Practice, vol. 24. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1994)Google Scholar
  42. ILVA: Bilancio annuale e consolidato (Separate and consolidated financial statement) (2010)Google Scholar
  43. ILVA: Bilancio annuale e consolidato (Separate and consolidated financial statement) (2011)Google Scholar
  44. ILVA: Trend finanziari 2007–2011 (Financial trends 2007–2011) (2011)Google Scholar
  45. Inquiry Parliamentary Commission about waste cycle illegal activities: Relazione territoriale sulle attività illecite connesso al ciclo rifiuti della Regione Puglia. Doc. XXIII 10 (Regional relation on the illegal activities about waste cycle Doc. XXIII 10) (2012a)Google Scholar
  46. Inquiry Parliamentary Commission about waste cycle illegal activities: Relazione territoriale sulle attività illecite connesso al ciclo rifiuti della Regione Puglia. Doc. XXIII n.12 (Regional relation on the illegal activities about waste cycle Doc. XXIII 12) (2012b)Google Scholar
  47. Italian Government: Protocollo di intesa per interventi urgenti di bonifica, ambientalizzazione e riqualificazione di Taranto (Protocol agreement on financial public resources for urgent environmental recovery and retraining measures for the Taranto area) (2012, 26th July)Google Scholar
  48. Jasanoff, S.: American exceptionalism and the political acknowledgment of risk. Daedalus 119, 61–81 (1990)Google Scholar
  49. Jasanoff, S.: Reason in practice. In: Science and Public Reason. Routledge, Milton Park, UK (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Jeacle, I.: The popular pursuit of DIY: exploring the role of calculative technologies in an actor network. Manag. Acc. Res. 35, 99–109 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Judge for the preliminary inquiries: Ordinanza di fermo della produzione e sequestro prodotti ILVA S.p.A. (Production’s requisition measure) (2012a)Google Scholar
  52. Judge for the preliminary inquiries: Ordinanza di chiusura di ILVA S.p.A. (Ilva stop production measure) (2012b, 26th July)Google Scholar
  53. Lemke, J.L.: Intertextuality and text semantics. Adv. Discourse Processes 50, 85–114 (1995)Google Scholar
  54. Lupton, D.: Sociology and risk. In: Beyond the Risk Society: Critical Reflections on Risk and Human Security, pp. 11–24 (2006)Google Scholar
  55. Lupton, D.: Risk, 2nd edn. Routledge, Milton Park, UK (2013)Google Scholar
  56. March, J.G.: Ambiguity and accounting: the elusive link between information and decision making. Acc. Organ. Soc. 12(2), 153–168 (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Miller, P.: Governing by numbers: why calculative practices matter. Soc. Res. 68, 379–396 (2001)Google Scholar
  58. Miller, P., Rose, N.: Governing economic life. Econ. Soc. 19(1), 1–31 (1990)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Mouritsen, J., Kreiner, K.: Accounting, decisions and promises. Acc. Organ. Soc. 49, 21–31 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. NOE of Lecce: Nota prot. N.41/2010 (Note prot. N.41/2010) (2011)Google Scholar
  61. O’Malley, P.: Governmentality and risk. In: Zinn, J. (ed.) Social Theories of Risk and Uncertainty, pp. 52–75. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford (2008). Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 09/98 (2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1478289
  62. O’Malley, P.: Risk, Uncertainty and Government. Routledge, Milton Park, UK (2012)Google Scholar
  63. Pfaller A., Lerch M.: Challenges of globalization: new trends. In: International Politics and Society. Transaction Publishers, NJ (2005)Google Scholar
  64. Pooler, M., Politi, J.: Bidding Race to Win Europe’s Biggest Steel Plant Heats up. Financial Times, 5 March 2017 (2017). https://www.ft.com/content/24c73c76-ff6f-11e6-8d8e-a5e3738f9ae4
  65. Samiolo, R.: Commensuration and styles of reasoning: Venice, cost-benefit, and the defence of place. Acc. Organ. Soc. 37(6), 382–402 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Sanna, M.,  Monguzzi, R., Santili, N.,  Felici, R.: Conclusione perizia chimica (Chemical appraisal conclusions) (2012a)Google Scholar
  67. Senate 782a public audition (antimeridian): Informativa del Ministro dell’ambiente e della tutela del territorio e del mare sull’ILVA di Taranto (Environment Minister audition on Taranto’s ILVA) (2012, 1st August)Google Scholar
  68. Senate 788a public audition: Informativa del Ministro dello sviluppo economico e delle infrastrutture e dei trasporti e del Ministro dell’ambiente e della tutela del territorio e del mare sui più recenti sviluppi della vicenda dell’Ilva di Taranto (Economic Development and Environment Ministers auditions on the newest developments on Taranto’s ILVA) (2012, 5th September)Google Scholar
  69. Superior Institute for the Environmental Protection and Research together with the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control National Investigation Commission: Opinione decisiva (Decisive opinion) (2012, October)Google Scholar
  70. United Nation: Principles for Responsible Management Education (2007). http://www.unprme.org/index.php
  71. United Nation: Developing program: Sustainable Development goals (2017). http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/ourwork/sustainable-development/overview.html
  72. Zhang, E., Andrew, J.: Rethinking China: discourse, converge and fair value accounting. Crit. Perspect. Acc. 36, 1–21 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of VeronaVeronaItaly
  2. 2.Ca’ Foscari University of VeniceVeniceItaly

Personalised recommendations