The purpose of this paper is to explore how softer issues such as emotions function in the alignment of a management accounting and control system (MCS) following an international acquisition.
To tap into the interplay of softer issues and formal structures, the paper compares the sensemaking of the changes in the structures related to and following an acquisition in the acquiring firm and the acquired firm.
The results show that the people in the acquiring firm take the company perspective and identify the processes of change and technical matters affecting consolidation. Their interpretative frames are thus more rational than the emotional frames of the people in the acquired firm, who explain the changes in terms of their personal experiences. Accordingly, softer issues, such as emotions, affect how structural changes are interpreted.
The paper contributes to the existing research on the post-acquisition integration of MCSs by showing that not only do the basic assumptions of MCSs challenge the alignment, but the positions of individuals also create certain perspectives that may evoke emotions and affect sensemaking. In this specific situation emotions may already be evoked by the changes in work, not only by accounting figures and technologies. The contradiction between rational and emotional frames may cause difficulties in alignment, since introducing new formal accounting structures does not provide any unambiguous frame for sensemaking. These structures may be interpreted through their content or through the effects on daily work.
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