Determinants of Accounting Innovation Implementation

24 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2005

See all articles by Margaret A. Abernethy

Margaret A. Abernethy

University of Melbourne, Department of Accounting

Jan Bouwens

Amsterdam Business School


Accounting innovations are often not successfully implemented or diffused throughout the organization. This study seeks to explain this phenomenon. One of the major impediments to the successful implementation of accounting innovation is that management accounting systems are generally used to serve the decision control needs of top management while at the same time purportedly supporting the decision management needs of lower level managers. To the extent that the accounting system is used for decision control, innovation creates the potential for wealth effects to occur. This prompts managers, whose wealth will be negatively affected, to resist accounting innovation. We present conditions where it is likely for negative wealth effects to occur. Under these conditions the system will fail to achieve its intended objectives. Our theoretical model examines how decentralization choices influence resistance to accounting innovation. We argue that delegation of decision rights can limit the potential for resistance in two ways - (a) by creating the environment which allows managers to ensure that their subunits are able to adapt to the new signals provided by accounting innovations and (b) by enabling subunit managers to become involved in the design of these systems. Our model also enables us to assess the consequences on organizational outcomes when subunit managers resist accounting innovations. Based on data collected from production managers, our results demonstrate the importance of decentralization choices on the effective implementation of accounting innovations.

Suggested Citation

Abernethy, Margaret A. and Bouwens, Jan, Determinants of Accounting Innovation Implementation. Abacus, Vol. 41, No. 3, pp. 217-240, October 2005, Available at SSRN:

Margaret A. Abernethy (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne, Department of Accounting ( email )

Melbourne, Victoria 3010 3010
+61 3 8344 7655 (Phone)
+61 3 9349 2397 (Fax)

Jan Bouwens

Amsterdam Business School ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
+31 20 5258740 (Phone)

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