The unfolding rationales surrounding management accounting innovations: a balanced scorecard case

Claudio de Araujo Wanderley, John Cullen, Mathew Tsamenyi

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal

Abstract

Purpose: The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) possesses an inherent duality, as it has been described as a carrier of institutions (i.e. the BSC is a “management ideology” or “mode of thinking”) and a flexibly interpretive boundary object at the same time. This study examines how this inherent duality of the BSC may influence the unfolding rationales surrounding its implementation and use. Design/methodology/approach: Empirical support for this investigation is gathered from an in-depth field study. The focal firm is a Brazilian electricity distribution company that transitioned from state to private ownership under hyper-regulation, and whose holding company experienced strategic and structural changes. Findings: The study identified a misalignment between the characteristics of the firm (e.g. organizational logics) and the perceived BSC features. This misalignment initially produced tensions and institutional logics complexity for the organization forcing the BSC implementers to rationalize it to provide meaning regarding its implementation in the firm. The findings also show why and how the promoters of the BSC conducted its “strategy of translation” in order to disentangle and reassemble both the material and symbolic components of the BSC to facilitate its implementation and use. It was found that promoters of the BSC engaged in contextualization work, which featured two main actions: a combination of coupling and selective decoupling and a change of meaning. Originality/value: This paper advances current understanding of the process of the unfolding rationales surrounding management accounting innovations (e.g. the BSC). The study shows that the BSC unfolds in more complex, time-related and simultaneous ways than has previously been reported in the literature. Moreover, the paper contributes by explaining how the management's rationales, relating to their historical understanding, perception of legitimation needs and social skills, contributed to the continuous unfolding of the BSC. In addition, four potentially interesting areas for further research were identified.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1212-1238
Number of pages27
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Volume35
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2022

Keywords

  • Balanced scorecard
  • Institutional logics
  • Translation
  • Practice variation
  • Management accounting
  • Innovations

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The unfolding rationales surrounding management accounting innovations: a balanced scorecard case'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this