An Ontological Analysis of Corporate Income: The Diversity of Markets and the Power of Collective Declaration


Corporate profit, or net income on corporate financial statements, has tremendous influences on individual and organizational behaviours. It determines not only corporate performance and its fate in the market, but also sometimes economy as a whole. This study is a unique attempt to analyze corporate profit/income from an ontological standpoint. Obviously, they are just numbers do not exist physically, but, as mentioned, quite powerful as a set of numbers.

Then, it is interesting that, in addition to net income (or what is called the bottom line) on the income statement, accounting scholars and professionals have come up with a new concept of comprehensive income, and the international accounting standards board is currently considering improving the format of the income statement (how to calculate various incomes on corporate income statements). These cases tell us that the income is not a static but dynamic concept. Then, what does the income reflect? Do the changes of the way corporate income is calculated reflect changes of the way we see market or market itself? This study grapples with these questions by relying on philosophical and sociological analysis of institutions.

Particularly, after discussing the dynamics of the concept of corporate income, this study firstly introduces the perspective of performativity. By considering various studies on the concept of performativity (e.g., Brisset (2019) and Okamoto (2020)), this study argues that collective corporate profit performs collective attitudes in the markets. Next, applying recent Jackson (2019)’s perspective as well as Dodd (2014)’s one, the diversity of markets and the relativity of how we perceive markets are highlighted. Finally, it insists that the standard setters’ political activity, or standard setting, is significant in institutional building, and by relying on Searle (2009) and Tuomela (2002), this study puts forth a perspective of collective declarations based on the Tuomela’s viewpoint of operative members. In sum, this study can be an additional contribution to the underresearched concept of Searlean ‘declaration’.


2 thoughts on “An Ontological Analysis of Corporate Income: The Diversity of Markets and the Power of Collective Declaration

  1. Massin, Olivier says:

    Hi Noriaki, thanks this is very interesting and promising project! some comments on the go:
    (1) “money is a process”: here are three reasons why money must be instead en endurant/continuant (= lacking temporal parts): (i) money can be owned, processes can’t. (ii) money can be accumulated, processes can’t; (iii) money can be transferred, processes can’t.

    (2) with respect to income and the Accounting Standard Setters, one issue is whether wha it collectively accepted here is the income itself, or the measure of the income. The later sounds more plausible to me, as one may think that the new, more comprehensive, measures of income aim at being closer to the truth, to what the real income actually is. The measure of the income is institutional, the income itself is certainly a social phenomena, but not one created by collective imposition of status function. Would your agree with this ?

    1. Okamoto, Noriaki says:

      Thanks Olivier!

      Although I replied to your questions during the Q&A session, I think this would be useful to others.
      First of all, both questions are so insightful that I can consider more deeply about my research.

      To the first question, you are right. Money itself can’t be owned, accumulated, or transferred. But what is money itself? Being money represents something. To be money, others including myself/yourself has to regard something as money. In that sense, or based on an assumption that money can never be static, I think money can be process.

      To the second question, I agree with you on that “the measure of the income is collectively accepted”. However, as I mentioned during the presentation, non-operative members (or ordinary people) tends to tacitly accept it and focus more on income itself (whether or not it is positive or increasing).

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