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Different interpretations of a “fixed” concept: Examining Juran's cost of quality from an actor-network perspective


  • David Emsley


Purpose - This paper aims to examine the reasons why introducing a “fixed” management accounting technique, such as Juran's cost of quality technique, results in different, rather than similar outcomes. Design/methodology/approach - Actor-Network Theory (ANT) was used to examine events in a longitudinal case study where Juran's cost of quality technique was introduced into two manufacturing plants of the same organisation. Findings - Both plants developed the cost of quality in significantly different ways to Juran's “fixed” cost of quality technique. In addition, significant differences were also found between the plants, despite the intention to replicate the cost of quality from one plant to the other. Research limitations/implications - Although the precise circumstances of the plants in the case study are unique, the principles of ANT that describe how the cost of quality was introduced and the differences that were observed, are likely to be relevant to other organisations and techniques. Practical implications - The practical implications of this study are that “fixed” techniques – such as Juran's cost of quality – are not fixed and are unlikely to be implemented in “textbook” fashion. To manage the innovation process better, practitioners need to understand the heterogeneity of actors' interests, the variety and complexity of the context and the iterative, recursive nature of the innovation process. Originality/value - Although the cost of quality is an important management accounting technique, this is one of the few studies to have empirically examined it.

Suggested Citation

  • David Emsley, 2008. "Different interpretations of a “fixed” concept: Examining Juran's cost of quality from an actor-network perspective," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 21(3), pages 375-397, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:aaajpp:v:21:y:2008:i:3:p:375-397

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ittner, Christopher D. & Larcker, David F., 2001. "Assessing empirical research in managerial accounting: a value-based management perspective," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-3), pages 349-410, December.
    2. Preston, Alistair M. & Cooper, David J. & Coombs, Rod W., 1992. "Fabricating budgets: A study of the production of management budgeting in the national health service," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 561-593, August.
    3. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lauri Lepistö, 2014. "Taking information technology seriously: on the legitimating discourses of enterprise resource planning system adoption," Mathematical Methods of Operations Research, Springer;Gesellschaft für Operations Research (GOR);Nederlands Genootschap voor Besliskunde (NGB), vol. 25(3), pages 193-219, December.
    2. repec:spr:jmgtco:v:28:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s00187-017-0247-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Carmela Rizza & Daniela Ruggeri, 2016. "The performativity of Accounting Information System in interfirm relationships," MANAGEMENT CONTROL, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2016(1), pages 71-89.


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