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Understanding management accounting change using strong structuration frameworks

Georgios Makrygiannakis (Accounting and Finance, Technological Educational Institute of Crete, Heraklion, Greece)
Lisa Jack (Portsmouth Business School, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 19 September 2016



The purpose of this paper is to suggest a strong structuration-based framework for the study of management accounting change.


A retrospective field study was designed to investigate the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on budgeting and control practices of Greek hospitality organisations. Conduct analysis addresses agents’ perceptions of the changes upon themselves. Context analysis explores the changing context, and how the agents modified their in-situ control structures accordingly. The framework is demonstrated through one case study.


The agents in the case, triggered by the crisis, gradually come to criticise the way they practice budgeting. The first response is to practice budgeting more normatively, but later they criticise and modify these norms. As their formal mentalities co-mediated action, variance management became proactive rather than reactive. Variations in the ways agents draw upon structures – unreflectively or critically – and on how they act to reproduce structures – routinely or strategically – characterise change in management accounting practice. Agents’ reasoning and conduct leading to action is local, and these local changes in conduct and context are significant in understanding management accounting change.


This framework for studying management accounting change balances structural conditions of action, with action and interaction. It can be used to study how, why, and by whom institutionalised management accounting practices may change.



The authors would like to thank Ahmed Kholeif, Danture Wickramasinghe, and the other participants at the SST Workshop in Glasgow (April, 2015) for their helpful comments on an earlier version of the paper, as well as the two AAAJ anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions.


Makrygiannakis, G. and Jack, L. (2016), "Understanding management accounting change using strong structuration frameworks", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 29 No. 7, pp. 1234-1258.



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