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Power, ERP systems and resistance to management accounting: a case study


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  • Joao A. Ribeiro

    (CETE, Faculdade de Economia da Universidade do Porto)

  • Robert W. Scapens

    (Manchester School of Accounting and Finance)

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    This paper reports an intensive longitudinal case study carried out in a Portuguese manufacturing organisation in which attempts to promote change through management accounting were made in recent years. In a first pilot visit to the organisation, two puzzling observations were made. Firstly, and particularly in the manufacturing area of the organisation, management accounting systems introduced in recent years were not being used in everyday interactions and practices. Secondly, a newly introduced ERP system was having no apparent impact on management accounting or on the work of management accountants. We found that these observations were related to issues of power. There were different and conflicting conceptions of which rules should be followed in the manufacturing area, and strategic attempts to enact those conceptions (or to resist alternative ones). This paper draws on the insights of the Circuits of Power (Clegg, 1989a) in order to explain, in theoretically informed manner, the puzzling observations in the case.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto in its series FEP Working Papers with number 141.

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    Length: 45 pages
    Date of creation: Apr 2004
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:por:fepwps:141

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    1. Miller, Peter & O'Leary, Ted, 1987. "Accounting and the construction of the governable person," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 235-265, April.
    2. Chua, Wai Fong, 1995. "Experts, networks and inscriptions in the fabrication of accounting images: A story of the representation of three public hospitals," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 20(2-3), pages 111-145.
    3. M. Lynne Markus & Daniel Robey, 1988. "Information Technology and Organizational Change: Causal Structure in Theory and Research," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 34(5), pages 583-598, May.
    4. Hopper, Trevor & Armstrong, Peter, 1991. "Cost accounting, controlling labour and the rise of conglomerates," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 16(5-6), pages 405-438.
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    Cited by:
    1. François Meyssonnier & Frédéric Pourtier, 2005. "Les ERP changent-ils le contrôle de gestion ?," Post-Print halshs-00581245, HAL.
    2. Gun Abrahamsson & Jonas Gerdin, 2006. "Exploiting institutional contradictions: The role of management accounting in continuous improvement implementation," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 3(2), pages 126-144, July.
    3. João A. Ribeiro & Robert W. Scapens, 2006. "Institutional theories in management accounting change: Contributions, issues and paths for development," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 3(2), pages 94-111, July.


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