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Accounting information and managerial work

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  • Hall, Matthew
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    Abstract

    Despite calls to link management accounting more closely to management (Jonsson, 1998), much is still to be learned about the role of accounting information in managerial work. This lack of progress stems partly from a failure to incorporate in research efforts the findings regarding the nature of managerial work, as well as inadequate attention devoted to the detailed practices through which accounting information is actually used by managers in their work. In this paper I draw on prior research to develop a series of propositions focused on three primary insights into how and why managers use accounting information in their work. First, managers primarily use accounting information to develop knowledge of their work environment rather than as an input into specific decision-making scenarios. In this role, accounting information can help managers to develop knowledge to prepare for unknown future decisions and activities. Second, as accounting information is just one part of the wider information set that managers use to perform their work, it is imperative to consider its strengths and weaknesses not in isolation but relative to other sources of information at a manager's disposal. Third, as managers interact with information and other managers utilising primarily verbal forms of communication, it is through talk rather than through written reports that accounting information becomes implicated in managerial work. These insights have important implications for how managers use accounting information, and, in particular, require reconsideration of the types accounting information that managers find, or could find, helpful. The paper also considers how existing experimental and field-based methods could fruitfully be adapted to focus on the detailed activities through which managers engage with accounting information.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Accounting, Organizations and Society.

    Volume (Year): 35 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 3 (April)
    Pages: 301-315

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:35:y:2010:i:3:p:301-315

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/aos

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    Cited by:
    1. Farjaudon, Anne-Laure & Morales, Jérémy, 2013. "In search of consensus: The role of accounting in the definition and reproduction of dominant interests," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/10730, Paris Dauphine University.
    2. Morales, Jérémy & Farjaudon, Anne-Laure, 2012. "In search of consensus : The role of accounting in the definition and reproduction of dominant interests," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/9538, Paris Dauphine University.
    3. Jordan, Silvia & Messner, Martin, 2012. "Enabling control and the problem of incomplete performance indicators," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 544-564.
    4. Kilfoyle, Eksa & Richardson, Alan J. & MacDonald, Laura D., 2013. "Vernacular accountings: Bridging the cognitive and the social in the analysis of employee-generated accounting systems," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 382-396.
    5. Rowe, Casey & Shields, Michael D. & Birnberg, Jacob G., 2012. "Hardening soft accounting information: Games for planning organizational change," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 260-279.

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