Accounting change: explaining the outcomes, interpreting the process

Mariannunziata Liguori (Queen's University, Belfast, UK and SDA Bocconi, Milan, Italy)
Ileana Steccolini (Public Management and Policy Department, Bocconi University, SDA Bocconi, Milan, Italy)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Publication date: 1 January 2012



The issue of accounting change, why and how accounting evolves through time and within specific organisational settings, has been addressed by an important body of literature. This paper aims to explain why, in processes of accounting change, organisations confronting similar environmental pressures show different outcomes of change.


Drawing on archetype theory, the paper analyses the case of two Italian local governments. Comparative case studies were carried out, reconstructing a period of 15 years.


Although confronted with similar environmental pressures, the two cases show two different patterns of accounting change, where only one case is able to finally reach radical change. Accounting change can be prompted by external stimuli, but, once the change is prompted, the outcomes of the change are explained by the dynamics of intra‐organisational conditions.


The study contributes to accounting change literature by adopting an approach (i.e. archetype theory) that overcomes some of the limitations of previous studies in explaining variations in organisational change. Through this, the authors are able to explain different outcomes and paces of accounting change and point out the intra‐organisational factors also affecting them in the presence of similar environmental pressures. A specification of the theoretical framework in a particular setting is also provided.



Liguori, M. and Steccolini, I. (2012), "Accounting change: explaining the outcomes, interpreting the process", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 27-70.

Download as .RIS



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.