Management Accounting Practices and Discourses Change: The Role and Use of Management Accounting Systems
Rui J. O. Vieira
New University of Lisbon - Faculdade de Economia
Warwick Business School
FEUNL Working Paper No. 481
This paper aims to trace the development of management accounting systems (MAS) in a Portuguese bank, where an activity based costing system (ABC) has been trialled for implementation over the past few years, as a means to improving the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of employee activity. This initiative can be located in a wider cultural change in Portuguese banking towards global (i.e. US derived) strategies and processes, but within an organizational world where older traditions remain powerful. The research undertaken here is a longitudinal case study of organisational change in one institution based on a critical-interpretive model. Although drawing on the interpretive tradition since it is concerned with actors' perceptions, interpretations and beliefs, it also draws on a more historically focused Foucault-inspired critical framework of the kind developed in the work of Hoskin and Macve (e.g. 1986, 1988, 1994, 2000), and in the research into the financial sector undertaken by Morgan and Sturdy (2000). The particular model developed here is designed to enable the exploration of the effect of accounting practices on change across time from three perspectives - changing structures, changing discourses and the effect of both of these processes on power relations.
The research highlights the increase in visibility and perceived importance of accounting in the banking sector, and how accounting is significant beyond its technical roles. The study provides new insights into how management accounting practices, along with other organisational systems, play an important role questioning, visualising, analysing, and measuring implemented strategies. As the language and practice of management have shifted towards strategy and marketing discourses, patterns of work, organisation and career are being restructured, in often under-appreciated ways, by accounting practices.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: implementation of change, activity based costing, financial services, case study
JEL Classification: M40, M46, M47, G21
Date posted: May 17, 2006
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