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  • 1.
    Englund, Hans
    et al.
    Örebro University, Örebro University School of Business.
    Gerdin, Jonas
    Örebro University, Örebro University School of Business.
    Agency and structure in management accounting research: reflections and extensions of Kilfoyle and Richardson2011In: Critical Perspectives on Accounting, ISSN 1045-2354, E-ISSN 1095-9955, Vol. 22, no 6, p. 581-592Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper is a reaction to and extension of Kilfoyle and Richardson's (K&R) paper “Agency and structure in budgeting: thesis, antithesis and synthesis” [Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 2011;2:183–199] with the aim of contributing to the ongoing discussion about how to conceptualize agency and structure in management accounting research. More specifically, while we fully sympathize with K&R's overall conclusion that a duality perspective (as opposed to dualism) has the best potential to address the intriguing paradox of embedded agency, we also argue that some of their writings open up for multiple interpretations, of which some may be problematic if we want to dissolve the separation of agency and structure. As a reaction to this, we propose a number of specifications resulting in a duality perspective which is grounded in a ‘flat and local’ ontology. This perspective, in turn, forms the basis for the development of a general framework which identifies four principal origins of embedded agency, of which K&R mainly discuss one. In relation to K&R, our paper thus extends their line of argument by suggesting a number of interesting, yet largely unexplored avenues for future management accounting research.

  • 2.
    Englund, Hans
    et al.
    Örebro University, Swedish Business School at Örebro University.
    Gerdin, Jonas
    Örebro University, Swedish Business School at Örebro University.
    Structuration theory and mediating concepts: Pitfalls and implications for management accounting research2008In: Critical Perspectives on Accounting, ISSN 1045-2354, E-ISSN 1095-9955, Vol. 19, no 8, p. 1122-1134Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Giddens’ way of conceptualizing how structures work as both the medium for and outcome of human action – duality of structure –has been emphasized as a valuable point of departure when studying management accounting in its social context. However, we argue that in the literature there are different ways of using mediating concepts between social structure and action, whereby management accounting systems are conceptualized as both the medium for action, and human action as such. Using the often-cited article by Burns and Scapens [Burns J, Scapens RW. Conceptualizing management accounting change: an institutional framework. Management Accounting Research 2000;11(1):3–25] as an illustrative example, we discuss theoretical and methodological consequences of these different ways of conceptualizing management accounting. A main conclusion is that when management accounting is defined through concurrently referring to both ‘virtual’ structures that generate action and the situated doings of individuals, structure and action risk becoming conflated and there is a risk of drawing erroneous conclusions about structural change or stability. The paper closes with some methodological suggestions as to how these problems can be avoided.

    © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  • 3.
    Englund, Hans
    et al.
    Örebro University, Örebro University School of Business.
    Gerdin, Jonas
    Örebro University, Örebro University School of Business.
    Structuration theory in accounting research: applications and applicability2014In: Critical Perspectives on Accounting, ISSN 1045-2354, E-ISSN 1095-9955, Vol. 25, no 2, p. 162-180Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Ever since Giddens’ structuration theory (ST) was introduced into the accounting literature some 25 years ago, it has strengthened its position as one of the major schools of thought used to explore accounting as organizational, social and political phenomena. The purpose of this study is to review how ST has been applied, and can be applied, in this sizeable literature. Overall, the review of some 65 published papers, suggests that not only has ST contributed to challenge the assumptions of ‘inherent and functional’ features of accounting systems per se characterizing mainstream research, but also to develop other alternative theoretical perspectives. However, our review also suggests several limitations. These include that the accounting community has not really worked as a collective to develop a structurationist understanding of accounting practices, and that most researchers remain largely uncritical to ST as a theory. We also find that accounting scholars have not yet developed a mutual understanding of how to interpret ST (i.e. there are conceptual unclarities and even inconsistencies), or how to apply ST methodologically in empirical research. Based on these limitations, and the identification of a number of ‘black spots’ in the literature, we suggest several directions for future scholarly effort.

  • 4.
    Forsberg, Per
    et al.
    School of Business and Informatics, University College of Borås, Borås, Sweden; GRI, School of Economics 5 and Commercial Law at Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.
    Westerdahl, Stig
    For the sake of serving the broader community: sea piloting compared with auditing2007In: Critical Perspectives on Accounting, ISSN 1045-2354, E-ISSN 1095-9955, Vol. 18, no 7, p. 781-804Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Discussions concerning ethics and the auditing profession tend to end up in two different standpoints: create stronger regulations or increase individual morals. In this article we will argue for a third standpoint that emphasizes the importance of belonging to a community, to a broader society.

    The problem, as we see it, has to do with the separation of the aims of the auditing profession from those of the broader community that it is intended to serve. This is the result of the development of global auditing companies and standard-setting bodies that use bureaucratic control, regulatory frameworks, fragmentation and a codification of knowledge. Applying limited notions of community or virtue ethics on collectives like professions is of little help here since it tends to create self-justificatory professions disconnected from the broader society [Neu D, T’aerien R. Remembering the past: ethics and the Canadian Chartered Accounting profession, 1911–1925. Critical Perspectives on Accounting 2000;11(2):193–212].

    In our argumentation for a wider mission on serving the broader community we use the concepts “occupational community” and “organization” [van Maanen J, Barley SR. Occupational communities: cultures and controls in organizations. Research in Organizational Behavior 1984;6:287–365] together with the term “for-the-sake-of”. Actions taken “for-the-sake-of” has a point or meaning that is wider than what is good for the individual or limited community. We compare the auditing profession with the traditional sea piloting profession in Sweden, which is characterized by a strong occupational community and members who strive to act “for-the-sake-of” serving the broader society by facilitating safe sea travel. We wind up by discussing the possibilities the state, market and community have in encouraging acts “for-the-sake-of” serving the broader community.

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