Management Accounting Systems Usefulness as a Union of Natural and Rational Perspectives: Analyses at the Interface of Sales and Procurement

Erno Selos

    Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisMonograph

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    The objective of this dissertation is to clarify the notion of ‘management accounting systems usefulness’ in its organizational context at the interface of sales and procurement. This notion is often used both by academics and practitioners, and intuitively, it is easy to agree on its importance. However, the unclarity of the notion becomes evident as soon as there becomes a need to explicitly state for what it stands for. From an academics’ perspective, conceptual clarity is a prerequisite for any research that aims to develop our current understandings. Practitioners, in turn, benefit from a heightened ability to grasp which of the different accounting systems could be useful for them and to acknowledge why some of the MA systems fail to be adopted. To clarify the notion of MAS usefulness, the dissertation studies its underpinnings in both theoretical formulations and empirical settings. The review of the earlier formulations highlights the heterogeneity of the literature. Despite the variety of schools and theoretical stances, the dominance of two distinct organizational paradigms, i.e. rational and natural perspectives, has been pointed out by a number of scholars. This dissertation considers these perspectives by leaning on two representative streams of theoretical thought. The rational perspective is approached by relying on the contingency theory literature. The natural perspective, in turn, is studied with the help of an institutional theoretical view. Theoretical conceptualization is validated and refined with the help of qualitative field research. The empirical part of the dissertation comprises of two case studies that focus on MAS usefulness at the interface of sales and procurement. The findings from cases further highlight the possibility and the feasibility of the theoretical argument of the dissertation. The findings of this dissertation have both academic and practical implications. With theoretical and empirical examination, the study argues and illustrates that MAS usefulness could be better understood as a union of rational and natural perspectives rather than by relying on either of these perspectives alone. Hence, the dissertation contributes to the current MA literature by revitalizing the argument for paradigmatic pluralism. In addition, the dissertation provides an illustration of a research process that can be applied in future research. Although this dissertation focuses on building a conceptual understanding of MAS usefulness, its findings also have practical implications. That is, practitioners should also recognize and admit the importance of the both rational and natural aspects of usefulness when designing, developing and obtaining accounting systems and tools. As such, the theoretical conceptualization of this dissertation provides some very basic terminology to explain why certain kinds of MAS are perceived to be useful and end up being used in organizational settings.
    Translated title of the contributionManagement Accounting Systems Usefulness as a Union of Natural and Rational Perspectives: Analyses at the Interface of Sales and Procurement
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationTampere
    PublisherTampere University of Technology
    Number of pages238
    ISBN (Print)978-952-15-3189-7
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    Publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

    Publication series

    NameTampere University of Technology. Publication
    PublisherTampere University of Technology
    ISSN (Print)1459-2045


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