IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

In Search of Management Accounting Theory


  • Teemu Malmi
  • Markus Granlund


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

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:bbz:fcpbbr:v:11:y:2014:i:1:p:1-32 is not listed on IDEAS
    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.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:18:y:2009:i:3:p:597-620. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.