Management And Accounting Web

Atkinson, A. A., R. Balakrishnan, P. Booth, J. M. Cole, T. Groot, T. Malmi, H. Roberts, E. Uliana and A. Wu. 1997. New directions in management accounting research. Journal of Management Accounting Research (9): 79-108.

Summary by Anita Reed
Ph.D. Program in Accounting
University of South Florida, Spring 2002

Research Methods Main Page | Theories Main Page

Purpose and Motivation: A geographically and philosophically diverse committee expanded the work of a previous committee to identify potential research topics in management accounting. The goal of the committee is to "stimulate thought and debate concerning possible new frontiers for management accounting research " (p. 101).

The diversity of the committee lead to the development of broad topic areas of research as opposed to a more detailed list. The topics are representative of the committee’s interests, and are not intended to be all-inclusive. The committee developed three broad topic areas. The committee also discussed the need for utilizing multiple research methods to address varying facets of the same research question.

The three topic areas are (p. 80):

Management accounting’s role in organizational change,

The interaction between accounting and organizational structure,

The role of accounting information in supporting decision making.

The committee presented the specifics of each topic in tables that are reproduced below.

Table 1: Management Accounting and Organizational Change
Issue Research Direction Goal of Inquiry
The Control Paradigm 1. Determine the validity of the "Theory of Constraints" propositions in a range of organizational settings.

2. Identify choices for efficient and effective control measures:

a) Control Measures Necessary (Financial and Non-financial) b) Setting Targets c) Management controllability of measures (e.g. trade-off between controllability principle and incentives for managerial innovation.
1.Resolve debate between traditional control paradigm and the "Theory of Constraints" in the context of management accounting’s relation to organizational change.

2. Extend current knowledge related to control measures to encompass the effect of measurement choices on organizational ability to execute change.
Management Accounting as a Routine 3. Identify management accounting system characteristics that provide stability to the system without engendering organizational inertia.

4. Observe the impact of organizational change on management accounting routines.

5. Document organizational learning and its influence on management accounting innovations.
3.Develop theory that characterizes the equilibrium state in which a management accounting system balances its conflicting roles.

4. Develop theories of contextual learning within management accounting routines.

5. Apply existing process innovation models to management accounting change environments to describe the process of change. Blend findings from innovation management research in organization theory with evolutionary economics to develop contextually rich models of changing accounting routines.

Table 2: Management Accounting and the Organizational Structure
Issue Research Direction Goal of Inquiry
Work Teams 1. Evaluate alternative performance measurement systems and their application to work teams

2. Define information needs of work teams relative to individuals. Identify and explain the differing decision processes used by groups versus individuals.

3. Management accounting as a tool in work place power and politics
1.Link new workplace structures to existing models of performance measurement. Evolve new performance measures and theories, as appropriate.

2. Document existence of a match (or mismatch) between information needs of work teams and existing information systems. Create theory to guide new management accounting information systems, where needed.

3. Explore the broader role played by management accounting in the creation of corporate culture and the sociology of the workplace.
Responsibility Centers 4. Pursue joint revenue and cost allocation issues.

5. Develop new transfer pricing methods given new technologies and environmental realities.
4. Develop a theoretical framework for achieving rational allocations.

5. Create modern theory of transfer pricing by blending marketing, negotiations and production management to create a more effective mechanism to transfer goods and services within the organization.
Performance Measurement 6. Model the relationship between the type of work performed and the compensation basis.

7. Matching performance measures to desired behavior and/or outcomes. Systematically stud the evolution of performance measures. 8. The balanced scorecard and its impact on motivation and performance at the individual and the organizational level.
6.Discover the precise relationships between motivation and behavior. Ascertain how management accounting information impacts the relationship. Re-examine theories of decentralization.

7. Extend current research to encompass the shift from financial to non-financial performance measures 8. Extend current knowledge of the balanced scorecard and its impact on organizational effectiveness and performance.

Table 3: Management Accounting and Decision Making
Issue Research Direction Goal of Inquiry
Strategic Decision Making 1. Explore the interaction between management accounting techniques and competitive strategy formulation, implementation and modification.

2. Develop accounting measures that facilitate the resource-based view of strategy formulation.

3. Explore the interaction between management accounting techniques and functional strategies, such as Total Quality Management and lean inventory production.

4. Explore how management accounting systems/techniques influence the strategic decision making in not-for-profit and governmental institutions.
1. Extend current research by exploring the strategy/accounting interaction at all levels of management using a variety of research approaches.

2. Broaden the scope of management accounting by exploring the mechanisms by which management accounting information systems can incorporate non-financial or process-based measures.

3. Develop theory to describe the interaction between resource allocation and management accounting systems.

4. Extend and adapt current research to achieve a better understanding of the broader role management accounting plays in not-for-profit institutions.
Tactical Decision Making 5. Broaden the exploration of the contexts in which tactical decision making occurs, e.g., examine the links between the inventory level decision, work organization and incentive compensation. 5. Model the complexity of the tactical decision process to develop an understanding of the myriad of factors affecting theses types of decisions.

New Research Directions: The Confluence of Diverse Paths

The authors define each of the various research directions as being complex and multi-faceted. To develop and test effective theory underlying each of the issues, the use of multiple research methodologies, including field studies, case studies, empirical testing and survey techniques is advocated. Typically, the various methods would be used in iterative sequence, with each research method providing additional insight into the issue. In addition, the authors encourage researchers to incorporate and adapt theory and methodology from other disciplines to more completely inform their research. The authors admit to the possibility that using "cross-method, cross-discipline investigations" (p.101) may result in contradictory findings, but believe this to be indicative of the complexity of the issues and expect it to eventually lead to more fully developed theory and better understanding of the underlying issues.


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Buckley, J. W., M. H. Buckley and H. Chiang. 1976. Research Methodology & Business Decisions. National Association of Accountants. (Summary).

Covaleski, M. A., M. W. Dirsmith and S. Samuel. 1996. Managerial accounting research: The contributions of organizational and sociological theories. Journal of Management Accounting Research (8): 1-35. (Summary).

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Kaplan, R. S. 1983. Measuring manufacturing performance: A new challenge for managerial accounting research. The Accounting Review (October): 686-705. (JSTOR link). (Summary).

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Kaplan, R. S. 1998. Innovation action research: Creating new management theory and practice. Journal of Management Accounting Research (10): 89-118. (Summary).

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Shields, M. D. 1997. Research in management accounting by North Americans in the 1990s. Journal of Management Accounting Research (9): 3-61. (Summary).

Williams, J. J. and A. E. Seaman. 2001. Predicting change in management accounting systems: National culture and industry effects. Accounting, Organizations and Society 26(4-5): 443-460. (Summary).