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Management accounting routines: a framework on their foundations

Martin Quinn (DCU Business School, Dublin City Univeristy, Dublin, Ireland)
Martin R.W. Hiebl (Universtiy of Siegen, Siegen, Germany)

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

ISSN: 1176-6093

Article publication date: 11 October 2018

Issue publication date: 24 October 2018




Recent research provides useful insights on management accounting routines, yet little is written on their foundations. In particular, factors which may contribute to eventual management accounting routines have not been detailed in terms of the process of routinization. Thus, this paper aims to provide an initial theory-based understanding on the foundation of management accounting routines. In turn, it is hoped that this will raise further research interest on this topic.


Drawing on extant literature, a framework on foundations of management accounting routines is developed, and two empirical cases illustrate its operationalization.


The framework illustrates that a more complete understanding of change to management accounting routines can be gleaned when more is known about their foundations. The foundations are likely to be influenced by a combination and/or interaction of factors at the organizational level, the organizational field level and the economic and political level.

Research limitations/implications

Because of the so far limited understanding of the foundation of management accounting routines, more research is required. This framework may be useful to guide such research.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is one of few papers to offer an initial theory-based understanding on the foundations of management accounting routines specifically. This understanding can be built on to improve our knowledge in the management accounting domain of the complex, but ubiquitous, concept of organizational routines.



The authors thank Lukas Goretzki, Teemu Malmi, Brian Pentland and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on earlier drafts of this paper. Previous versions of the paper have been presented at the 10th Annual Conference for Management Accounting Research (ACMAR), Vallendar (Germany), the 3rd Empirical Research in Management Accounting and Control (ERMAC) Conference, Vienna (Austria) and the 9th International Management Control Research Conference, Nyenrode (Netherlands), and the authors also thank the participants of these conferences for constructive comments. The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from Dublin City University’s Research Capacity Building (RCB) program.


Quinn, M. and Hiebl, M.R.W. (2018), "Management accounting routines: a framework on their foundations", Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 535-562.



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