Management accounting change and sustainability: an institutional approach

Paulina Arroyo (CMA International Centre for Studies of Business Processes, HEC Montréal, Montréal, Canada)

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change

ISSN: 1832-5912

Publication date: 14 September 2012



The purpose of this paper is to propose an institutional entrepreneurship approach to examining management accounting change triggered by social and environmental concerns.


The study begins with a literature review concerning the role that old institutional economics and new institutional sociology have played in the study of management accounting change, underlining strengths and weaknesses. To deal with the main weaknesses, the institutional entrepreneurship approach is presented and utilized as the basis for the development of a conceptual framework, which is contextualized to the examination of management accounting change triggered by sustainability issues.


Management accounting change literature has not paid enough attention to the social constructivist roots of institutional theory. Through the application of a conceptual framework inspired by institutional change models and institutional entrepreneurship literature, this paper proposes another approach to examine how new management accounting practices are socially constructed during the course of organizational change, particularly in response to sustainability concerns.

Research limitations/implications

This new framework has not yet demonstrated its explanatory power in a particular field.


The paper examines management accounting change as a social construction process led by institutional entrepreneurs who aim to mobilize resources and negotiate the definition and implementation of sustainability strategies and new management accounting practices, which will take environmental and social issues into consideration, in order to reach an agreement on the pre‐institutionalization, diffusion and institutionalization of sustainable practices.



Arroyo, P. (2012), "Management accounting change and sustainability: an institutional approach", Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 286-309.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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