The Evolution of a Management Accounting Idea: The Case of Beyond Budgeting

61 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2010 Last revised: 10 Sep 2014

Sebastian D. Becker

HEC Paris - Accounting and Management Control Department

Martin Messner

HEC Paris

Utz Schäffer

WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management

Date Written: January 9, 2010

Abstract

This paper analyses the evolution of Beyond Budgeting as a theoretical concept and as a phenomenon in practice. We draw from diffusion theory to explain why Beyond Budgeting did not have the same success as other management accounting ideas, such as Activity-Based Costing or the Balanced Scorecard. Our particular focus is thereby on the way in which the identity of Beyond Budgeting was defined – namely in terms of a comprehensive management model rather than a particular tool or technique. We demonstrate how some proponents of Beyond Budgeting actively defended this identity and, consequently, abandoned the label “Beyond Budgeting” because of its misalignment with that identity. Others distanced themselves from the idea of a full management model and rather focused on the promotion of particular components of Beyond Budgeting. Both strategies ultimately did not favour diffusion of the concept as such. We use these observations to reflect upon the trade-off between a concept’s identity and its plasticity, and we explain why, in some cases, this trade-off may be difficult, or even impossible, to overcome.

Keywords: Budgeting, management accounting, diffusion, adoption, institutional work, innovation

JEL Classification: M10, M40

Suggested Citation

Becker, Sebastian D. and Messner, Martin and Schäffer, Utz, The Evolution of a Management Accounting Idea: The Case of Beyond Budgeting (January 9, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1535485 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1535485

Sebastian D. Becker (Contact Author)

HEC Paris - Accounting and Management Control Department ( email )

Jouy-en-Josas
France

Martin Messner

HEC Paris ( email )

1 rue de la Liberation
Jouy-en-Josas Cedex, 78351
France

Utz Schäffer

WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management ( email )

Burgplatz 2
Vallendar, D-56179
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.whu.edu/controlling

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