Lilley and Lightfoot examine a number of rhetorical accounts of the emergence and virtue of “futures” markets. They attempt to unpack the variety of legitimatory discourses that surround such markets to examine the precarious balance between uncertainty and knowledge that is supposedly managed by the skills of traders. The “reduction” of uncertainty through enhanced knowledge is, somewhat counterfactually, one of the key benefits ascribed to futures markets. These markets are made up of many players, with some seeking to “smooth” business cycles for their employers, while others seek short-term entrepreneurial gains through their “trading skills,” utilizing their second sight to exploit the volatility of the market. What we witness then is an unhappy marriage between brokers of stability and others whose raison d’être is precisely the opposite, the skilled surfing of tides of uncertainty. This has profound implications for the types of activities and rhetoric associated with such markets. Such implications may carry over from the financial world to the practice of management itself.
My current research is wide-ranging but may perhaps be broadly grouped around the exploration of aspects of representation and markets. This takes in several lines of enquiry. One strand, for example, includes deconstructing narratives of entrepreneurship and of trading (particularly within financial markets) with a concentration on how they collide with other representational regimes, such as accounting (and here I am currently drawing in particular upon the City Lives oral history collection held within the British Library Sound Archive). This in turn leads to discussion of the linked conflict between Austrian economic theory, entrepreneurship, accounting and pricing behaviour. At the same time, I have been exploring how some pervasive tropes, such as coding or cost-benefit analysis, re-occur in both these fields and other, seemingly unrelated disciplines - which has led to examining connections from advertising to software and genomics (and back again, via memetics, evolutionary modelling and other contemporary socio-biological parables). This research is centred within critical management studies but also reaches into policy debates over issues such as sustainable accounting and entrepreneurship.