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Extending Institutional Analysis through Theoretical Triangulation: Regulation and Activity-Based Costing in Portuguese Telecommunications


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  • Trevor Hopper
  • Maria Major


This paper examines why a Portuguese telecommunications company - Marconi - adopted activity-based costing (ABC). The focus lies in new institutional sociology (NIS), particularly the institutional change model of Dillard et al. (Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 17(4), pp. 506-542, 2004), supplemented by theoretical triangulation involving economic, labour process and actor network theories to enrich observations and extend theory. Why Marconi adopted ABC lay in a complex, interrelated chain of institutions, including the parent company, management consultants, national and European Union regulators, financial markets and consumer associations during market liberalization. ABC was a means and symbol of improved competitiveness and efficiency but its diffusion and adoption also involved mimetic, coercive and normative factors. In regulated environments external legitimacy and efficiency were intertwined and demonstrating efficiency using accounting symbols is problematic. The results confirm criticisms of early NIS research for dichotomizing economic and institutional pressures, assuming private organizations are exempt from institutional pressures and neglecting internal organizational dynamics. The Dillard et al. model accommodated many features of institutionalization but needed extension to incorporate the public interest, the role of boundary spanners across social levels and how intra-organizational factors and properties of the technology derived following translation and praxis play a part.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal European Accounting Review.

Volume (Year): 16 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 59-97

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Handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:16:y:2007:i:1:p:59-97

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Cited by:
  1. Sinikka Moilanen, 2008. "The role of accounting in the management control system: a case study of a family-led firm," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 5(3), pages 165-183, September.
  2. Covaleski, Mark A. & Dirsmith, Mark W. & Weiss, Jane M., 2013. "The social construction, challenge and transformation of a budgetary regime: The endogenization of welfare regulation by institutional entrepreneurs," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 333-364.
  3. Ildikó Réka CARDOS & Stefan PETE & Vasile Daniel CARDOS, 2012. "An Overview On The Adoption And Implementation Of Activity - Based Costing In Practice," Romanian Journal of Economics, Institute of National Economy, vol. 35(2(44)), pages 185-200, December.
  4. Ildikó Réka CARDOS & Stefan PETE, 2011. "Activity-based Costing (ABC) and Activity-based Management(ABM)Implementation – Is This the Solution for Organizations to Gain Profitability?," Romanian Journal of Economics, Institute of National Economy, vol. 32(1(41)), pages 151-168, June.
  5. Anne Riviere & Marie Boitier, 2011. "Liberté et responsabilité des universités : Comment le contrôle de gestion participe à la construction d'un système de pilotage de la performance ?," Post-Print hal-00650567, HAL.
  6. Moll, Jodie & Hoque, Zahirul, 2011. "Budgeting for legitimacy: The case of an Australian university," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 86-101, February.
  7. Inês Cruz & Maria Major & Robert W. Scapens, 2009. "Institutionalization and practice variation in the management control of a global/local setting," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 22(1), pages 91-117, January.
  8. José María González González, 2010. "Determinants of socially responsible corporate behaviours in the Spanish electricity sector," Social Responsibility Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 6(3), pages 386-403, October.
  9. Tharusha N. Gooneratne & Zahirul Hoque, 2013. "Management control research in the banking sector: A critical review and directions for future research," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 10(2), pages 144-171, July.
  10. Martijn van der Steen, 2009. "Inertia and management accounting change: The role of ambiguity and contradiction between formal rules and routines," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 22(5), pages 736-761, July.
  11. Arjaliès, Diane-Laure, 2011. "Exploring the role of objects in the transformation of logics: a practice perspective," Les Cahiers de Recherche 952, HEC Paris.
  12. Martijn van der Steen, 2011. "The emergence and change of management accounting routines," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 24(4), pages 502-547, May.
  13. Mostafa Jazayeri & Danture Wickramsinghe & Tharusha Gooneratne, 2011. "Convergence versus divergence of performance measurement systems: Lessons from spatial variations," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 8(3), pages 292-314, September.
  14. Cardos Ildiko Reka & Pete Stefan, 2011. "Managerial And Cost Accounting Practices - A Romanian Overview," Annals of Faculty of Economics, University of Oradea, Faculty of Economics, vol. 1(2), pages 484-490, December.
  15. Diane-Laure Arjaliès, 2011. "Exploring the role of objects in the transformation of logics: a practice perspective," Working Papers hal-00633462, HAL.


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