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Article
Publication date: 15 July 2019

Henk J. ter Bogt and Robert W. Scapens

Drawing on recent research, which recognises the situated nature of accounting practices, the purpose of this paper is to extend the Burns and Scapens (B&S) framework and…

1283

Abstract

Purpose

Drawing on recent research, which recognises the situated nature of accounting practices, the purpose of this paper is to extend the Burns and Scapens (B&S) framework and to illustrate its potential for studying the situated nature of management accounting practices. The extended framework distinguishes field-level institutions (which the authors term broader institutions) and institutions within the organisation (which the authors term local institutions). To extend the B&S framework the authors draw on recent debates in institutional theory, both new institutional sociology, where the focus is now on the institutional logics perspective, and old institutional economics, where there has been debate about the relationship between institutions and actions.

Design/methodology/approach

While the B&S framework focussed on institutions within the organisation, the extended framework explicitly recognises institutions which extend beyond the boundaries of the organisation. It also recognises the way in which rationality and deliberation are related to human agency, as well as the power of specific individuals and/or groups to impose new rules. To illustrate the usefulness of the extended framework the research note draws on a recent study of performance measurement in the Accounting and Finance Groups of the Universities of Groningen and Manchester.

Findings

It is argued that local institutions within the organisation combine with the broader institutions to shape the forms of situated rationality which are applied by individuals and groups within the organisation. Different groups within an organisation (e.g. engineers and accountants) can have different forms of situated rationality, and contradictions in these forms of rationality can be a source of institutional change or resistance to change within the organisation, and can explain why accounting changes can by implemented in different ways in different organisations and also in different parts of the same organisation.

Originality/value

The extended framework will be useful for studying: (1) how situated rationalities evolve within an organisation, more specifically how they are shaped by both local and broader institutions; and (2) how prevailing situated rationalities shape the responses to accounting change.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 7 March 2008

Sue Llewellyn

The paper aims to provide a response to commentaries in this issue by Andrew Sayer, and Robert W. Scapens and ChunLei Yang on “Case studies and differentiated realities” a…

441

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to provide a response to commentaries in this issue by Andrew Sayer, and Robert W. Scapens and ChunLei Yang on “Case studies and differentiated realities” a paper by Sue Llewellyn published in Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management Vol. 4 No. 1, 2007.

Design/methodology/approach

Discusses issues raised in the commentaries around “differentiated realities”, “pluralist ontology” and the “single reality” of social constructivism.

Findings

Reiterates an understanding of the idea of “differentiated realities” and discusses the methodological implications that arise from it.

Originality/value

Clarifies Llewellyn's original discussion of differentiated realities and case studies.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 5 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 May 2006

João A. Ribeiro and Robert W. Scapens

To explore the contributions made by two strands of institutional research that have been applied to the study of management accounting change: “old institutional…

8652

Abstract

Purpose

To explore the contributions made by two strands of institutional research that have been applied to the study of management accounting change: “old institutional economics” and “new institutional sociology”. To propose ways of developing these theories, and in general to develop an institutional understanding of management accounting change.

Design/methodology/approach

Analysis of the literature on management accounting change, with a special emphasis on the literature drawing on institutional theory. Theoretical discussion based on the concept of the “circuits of power”. Illustration with observations made during a case study of an organisation in which attempts to promote change in management accounting were conducted in recent years.

Findings

Identification of some complementarities between these two strands of institutional theorising, and suggestions of how they can be developed by drawing on insights from the “circuits of power” framework.

Research limitations/implications

The case study analysis is limited to an illustration of the theoretical discussion. A building of bridges between the various developments in institutional approaches to management accounting change is necessary.

Originality/value

The paper is of value to researchers studying management accounting change. It clarifies the theoretical underpinnings of the institutional frameworks and suggests areas for institutional research into management accounting change.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 3 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 15 January 2018

Evangelia Varoutsa and Robert W. Scapens

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to debates about the relationship between trust and control in the governance of inter-organisational relationships. In…

1366

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to debates about the relationship between trust and control in the governance of inter-organisational relationships. In particular, the authors focus on the question of how the relationship between trust and control shifts over time.

Design/methodology/approach

An in-depth case study was conducted in a company operating in the aerospace industry. The authors aim to understand this company’s practices and, at the same time, to use the case study to deepen the knowledge of the complex trust/control nexus. The authors follow the changes in the relationship between trust and control as the company restructured its supply chain, and discuss issues which it had to address in the later phases of the supply chain restructuring.

Findings

The paper illustrates the duality of the trust/control nexus. The authors show how the studied company coped with the complex relationships with its suppliers as collaboration increased. The authors identify particular control mechanisms that the company developed to manage such complexity, such as a supplier strategy and a relationship profile tool.

Research limitations/implications

The paper studies supply chain restructuring and the changing relationship of trust and control over time only from the perspective of the assembler/manufacturer which “owns”/manages the supply chain.

Originality/value

The authors observe a move from inter-personal trust to inter-organisational trust. Furthermore, the authors illustrate how managers can intervene to maintain and stabilise trust and ensure that trust and control do not degrade or escalate beyond desirable levels.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 31 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 February 2005

A.K. Siti‐Nabiha and Robert W. Scapens

This paper explores the relationship between “stability and change” within with the process of accounting change It focuses on the ceremonial way in which a new system of…

9364

Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores the relationship between “stability and change” within with the process of accounting change It focuses on the ceremonial way in which a new system of value‐based management (VBM) was implemented and how the key performance indicators (KPIs) became decoupled from the day‐to‐day activities of the business, thereby creating a level of stability which ultimately contributed to accounting change.

Design/methodology/approach

It uses a longitudinal study of a company in which value‐based management was imposed by its parent. It is informed by an institutionalist framework which draws on concepts from both old institutional economics (OIE) and new institutional sociology (NIS).

Findings

It shows that stability and change are not necessarily contradictory or opposing forces, but can be intertwined in an evolutionary process of change.

Research limitations/implications

Although there is accounting change within the case study, it is problematic to characterise it as either successful or unsuccessful change – this has important implications for the way in which “success” is defined in studies of accounting change.

Originality/value

It is argued that in contrast to the normal assumption that decoupling is an “organisational” response to external pressures, it is shown how decoupling can occur through the working out of a complex and dynamic process of resistance to accounting change: a process which simultaneously involves both stability and change.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 18 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 22 November 2011

Cristiano Busco and Robert W. Scapens

The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature, roles and dynamics of change of management accounting systems (MAS), in processes of continuous organisational learning…

5690

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature, roles and dynamics of change of management accounting systems (MAS), in processes of continuous organisational learning and transformation. By studying the interaction between the accounting (and finance) function and the implementation of a Six‐sigma initiative, as the engine for organisational change, the authors seek to uncover the potential of measurement‐based systems of management for aligning business processes with corporate strategies. Such systems sustain continuous processes of transformation by infusing organisational culture with financial and non‐financial metrics of accountability.

Design/methodology/approach

The research is based on a longitudinal case study in which one of the authors had the opportunity to exercise what Schein called the clinical perspective; i.e. combining the role of researcher with that of helper‐consultant. There is mutual interdependence in the relationship between the authors' theoretical framework and the authors' longitudinal case study. While, on the one hand, the case research contributed to the search for an institutional explanation of the evidence experienced and collected, on the other hand, the empirical data are illuminated by the theoretical insights gained from that framework.

Findings

After first discussing cultural change, the authors rely both on the “clinical” position of one of the authors as researcher/helper‐consultant and on the insights provided by Schein's work on organisational culture and Giddens' structuration theory to develop an institutional framework for interpreting the ways in which routinised systems of accountability bind the ongoing processes of cultural transformation across time and space.

Research limitations/implications

Possible limitations are: the conceptualisation of organisational culture as a shared and institutional phenomenon does not take account of wider anthropological aspects (such as the influence of national culture); the role of helper‐consultant as well as researcher may have influenced some of the authors' interpretations; the authors' analysis does not consider macro‐economic variables; and only a small percentage of shop‐floor workers were interviewed.

Originality/value

The paper sheds light on the role of management accounting within organisational processes of transformation far beyond their mere visible enactment. As a result, the authors develop an institutional framework to interpret the linkages between the cognitive dynamics which characterise organisational culture (viewed as shared cognitive schemas) and the behavioural and structural modalities through which they are drawn upon and reproduced by organisational members.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 8 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 15 August 2016

Lynda C. Taylor and Robert W. Scapens

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the implementation of a new accounting system in the accounting department of a large retail company. The paper seeks to understand…

4322

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the implementation of a new accounting system in the accounting department of a large retail company. The paper seeks to understand and explain how management accounting change can be shaped by the identity and image of particular groups in an organisation.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper reports the findings of a longitudinal explanatory case study. An institutional framework was initially used to inform the research, but was subsequently extended using the concepts of identity and image.

Findings

By changing existing accounting systems, the accountants “inside” the accounting department sought to challenge their current “negative” identity and image. However, the case shows that the new accounting system was not well received by accountants “outside” the accounting department. The case illustrates that the differing identity and image of the two groups of accountants were crucial factors underlying the different perceptions of the accounting change.

Originality/value

The conceptual framework developed in this paper highlights the role which identity and image can play in shaping processes of change, and it enriches the understanding of the reasons for change, stability and resistance to change.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 29 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 September 1993

Christopher Humphrey, Peter Miller and Robert W. Scapens

Seeks to promote discussion of the pursuit of accountablemanagement in public sector organizations by providing a commentary onpost‐1979 experiences with such reforms in…

8582

Abstract

Seeks to promote discussion of the pursuit of accountable management in public sector organizations by providing a commentary on post‐1979 experiences with such reforms in the UK public sector. Particular attention is given to the nature and impact on the UK public sector of the neoliberal agenda which took particular charge during the Thatcher years, the position of accountable management reforms in this agenda, and some of the factors underlying the promotion, implementation, acceptance and resistance of such reforms. Explores the paradoxical nature of both neoliberalism and the accountable management reforms promoted in its name. Gives consideration to the construction and pursuit of alternative agendas and approaches regarding the provision of public services.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 October 1996

Christopher Humphrey and Robert W. Scapens

Provides a response to the various calls which have been made by accounting researchers for detailed case studies of accounting practice. Provides a methodological study…

7327

Abstract

Provides a response to the various calls which have been made by accounting researchers for detailed case studies of accounting practice. Provides a methodological study rather than a detailed case study. Aims to reposition the role of case studies in the continuing generation of alternative perspectives on accounting practice. Explores the dynamics of the interaction between theory and observation. Argues that there is a need for case‐based accounting researchers to become more directly involved in conversations concerning theories of the organizational and social functioning of accounting. Expresses the belief that accounting case studies can do more than “illustrate” particular social theories and that they have the potential to play a broader role in the development of accounting theory. Concludes that to secure such potential, accounting researchers should be, and in a post‐modern world can be, free to make use of existing theories, metaphors and prior case studies in a less constrained way than has hitherto been considered appropriate.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 14 June 2013

Antti Rautiainen and Robert W. Scapens

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the compatibility of actor network theory (ANT) and new institutional sociology (NIS) in analysing a case study of accounting change.

1534

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the compatibility of actor network theory (ANT) and new institutional sociology (NIS) in analysing a case study of accounting change.

Design/methodology/approach

This is an interpretive case study.

Findings

The Finnish case city experienced several path‐dependent changes concerning performance measurement (PM), financial reporting and the adoption of enterprise resource planning system (ERP). New tools such as the ERP have a potential to transform the actors and to change the agency of the actors. Furthermore, the concepts drawing on both ANT and NIS can together enrich analyses of accounting changes.

Research limitations/implications

The case analysis suggests guidelines for using ANT and/or NIS in accounting studies.

Practical implications

Understanding accounting developments as an intentional and path‐dependent process affected and constrained by complex networks, pressures and actors should contribute to better management of accounting changes.

Originality/value

Being informed by both ANT and NIS improves our understanding of accounting change and stability, serendipity, practice variations, changes beyond the minimum required to satisfy external requirements, and of the continued use of some accounting tools despite their limited functionality. Furthermore, we introduce the concepts dynamic agency and constrained transformation for studies of accounting change.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 10 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

Keywords

1 – 10 of 141