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In Search of Management Accounting Theory

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  • Teemu Malmi
  • Markus Granlund

Abstract

In this article we discuss the motivation for and role of theory in management accounting. We argue that theories in an applied field such as management accounting research should provide explanations that are useful for those we study - managers, organizations and society. We evaluate the nature of theories currently used and developed. Those theories that are considered theories by the research community are largely imported from other disciplines, but have hardly anything that makes them unique to management accounting. Those theories that are not currently regarded as theories by many of our colleagues attempt to explain how to apply management accounting to achieve superior performance. We argue that both forms of theories, at present, largely fail to provide valid support for practitioners. We contend that management accounting theory should help us to answer questions of what kind of management accounting systems we should apply, how, in what circumstances, and how to change them. We provide suggestions on how management accounting research could proceed to produce better theories in this regard.

Suggested Citation

  • Teemu Malmi & Markus Granlund, 2009. "In Search of Management Accounting Theory," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(3), pages 597-620.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:18:y:2009:i:3:p:597-620
    DOI: 10.1080/09638180902863779
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    2. repec:spr:jmgtco:v:28:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s00187-018-0255-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Stefania Veltri & Giovanni Bronzetti, 2015. "A Critical Analysis of the Intellectual Capital Measuring, Managing, and Reporting Practices in the Non-profit Sector: Lessons Learnt from a Case Study," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 131(2), pages 305-318, October.
    4. Kai Henning Blume, 2016. "Value-based management as a tailor-made management practice? A literature review," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 20(3), pages 553-590, September.
    5. Olle Westin & Hanno Roberts, 2010. "Interventionist research – the puberty years: an introduction to the special issue," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 7(1), pages 5-12, April.
    6. repec:spr:jmgtco:v:28:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s00187-017-0249-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Edelcio Koitiro Nisiyama & José Carlos Tiomatsu Oyadomari & Chen Yen-Tsang & Andson Braga de Aguiar, 2016. "The Use of Management Control Systems and Operations Management Techniques," Brazilian Business Review, Fucape Business School, vol. 13(2), pages 56-81, March.
    8. García-Unanue, Jorge & Gallardo, Leonor & Felipe, José Luis, 2012. "La factura deportiva. Diseño e implantación de un modelo de cálculo de costes para los servicios deportivos municipales/The Sport Bill. Design and Implementation of a Costing Model for Municipal Sport," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 30, pages 599-618, Agosto.
    9. Ivo De Loo & Alan Lowe, 2011. "Mixed methods research: don't – “just do it”," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 8(1), pages 22-38, April.
    10. Klaus Derfuss, 2015. "Relating Context Variables to Participative Budgeting and Evaluative Use of Performance Measures: A Meta-analysis," Abacus, Accounting Foundation, University of Sydney, vol. 51(2), pages 238-278, June.

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