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Strategic management accounting: how far have we come in 25 years?

  • Kim Langfield-Smith

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide a review of the origins of strategic management accounting and to assess the extent of adoption and “success” of strategic management accounting (SMA). Design/methodology/approach – Empirical papers which have directly researched SMA and prior review papers of the adoption and implementation of SMA or SMA techniques are reviewed. As well as assessing the extent of adoption of SMA and the reasons underlying an apparent low adoption rate, the role of accountants in adopting and implementing SMA is considered. Finally, the success or otherwise of SMA is discussed. Findings – SMA or SMA techniques have not been adopted widely, nor is the term SMA widely understood or used. However, aspects of SMA have had an impact, influencing the thinking and language of business, and the way in which we undertake various business processes. These issues cut across the wider domain of management, and are not just the province of management accountants. Research limitations/implications – There is limited value in conducting future surveys of the adoption and implementation of SMA or SMA techniques. Rather, the focus should be on how SMA-inspired techniques and processes diffuse into general practice within organizations. Originality/value – Twenty-five years after the term strategic management accounting was first introduced in the literature, this paper brings together disparate literature and provides a broad assessment of the “state-of-the-art” of strategic management accounting to inform researchers and practitioners.

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Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal.

Volume (Year): 21 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (February)
Pages: 204-228

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Handle: RePEc:eme:aaajpp:v:21:y:2008:i:2:p:204-228
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  1. Chenhall, Robert H. & Langfield-Smith, Kim, 2007. "Multiple Perspectives of Performance Measures," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 266-282, August.
  2. Simons, Robert, 1987. "Accounting control systems and business strategy: An empirical analysis," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 357-374, June.
  3. Baumol, William J, 1982. "Contestable Markets: An Uprising in the Theory of Industry Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 1-15, March.
  4. Bromwich, Michael, 1990. "The case for strategic management accounting: The role of accounting information for strategy in competitive markets," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 15(1-2), pages 27-46.
  5. Anderson, Shannon W. & Young, S. Mark, 1999. "The impact of contextual and process factors on the evaluation of activity-based costing systems," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 24(7), pages 525-559, October.
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