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The Impact of Contingencies on Information System Development

  • Gavin C Reid
  • Julia A Smith

Three tests of contingency theory are presented. The central hypothesis is that information system development is determined by contingencies. Data relate to the period 1994-98 for a sample of new Scottish micro firms. Contingency theory is tested by correlation, cluster and regression analysis. First, correlation analysis is applied to the timing of information system development and the timing of: severe cashflow crises; severe shortfalls of finance which seriously restrict strategic investment; and significant innovations. Second, cluster analysis is used to test the morphology suggested by contingency theory, of adaptive, running blind, and stagnant small firms. Third, regression analysis is used to test contingency theory in two forms. One explains a new weighted headcount measure of organizational form, and the other explains information system complexity. The three statistical methods used are generally supportive of contingency theory, suitably modified to a small firm context.

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Paper provided by Centre for Research into Industry, Enterprise, Finance and the Firm in its series CRIEFF Discussion Papers with number 9918.

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Date of creation: Oct 1999
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Handle: RePEc:san:crieff:9918
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  1. Jones, C. S., 1985. "An empirical study of the evidence for contingency theories of management accounting systems in conditions of rapid change," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 303-328, July.
  2. Gavin C Reid, 2000. "Information System Development in the Small Firm," CRIEFF Discussion Papers 0002, Centre for Research into Industry, Enterprise, Finance and the Firm.
  3. Otley, David T., 1980. "The contingency theory of management accounting: Achievement and prognosis," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 413-428, October.
  4. Gavin C Reid, 1996. "Capital Structure at Inception and the Short-Run Performance of Micro-Firms," CRIEFF Discussion Papers 9607, Centre for Research into Industry, Enterprise, Finance and the Firm.
  5. Langfield-Smith, Kim, 1997. "Management control systems and strategy: A critical review," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 207-232, February.
  6. JORISSEN, Ann & LAVEREN, Eddy & DEVINCK, Sabine, 1997. "Planning and control: Necessary tools for success in small and medium-sized enterprises? - Empirical results of survey and case research on SMEs in Belgium," Business Economics Working Papers 1997009, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics.
  7. Bhimani, Alnoor, 1999. "Mapping methodological frontiers in cross-national management control research," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 24(5-6), pages 413-440, July.
  8. Chapman, Christopher S., 1997. "Reflections on a contingent view of accounting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 189-205, February.
  9. Gordon, Lawrence A. & Miller, Danny, 1976. "A contingency framework for the design of accounting information systems," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 59-69, January.
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