How institutions matter in MA research : a literature review

Abstract: It is currently popular to study management accounting (MA) from an institutionalist perspective. Such a perspective is premised on that ‘institutions matter’; so that notions of social structure, agency and linkages in between them thus become central. While readings of the institutionally oriented MA-literature reveals interesting and insightful contributions about MA, they also unearth concerns regarding diversity and fragmentation in conceptualization and modelling. Therefore, the purpose of this licentiate thesis is to identify, classify and synthesize how ‘institutions matter’ in extant MA research and, based on this, suggest avenues for future research.To do so, this licentiate thesis entails a review of 34 empirical institutionally oriented MA studies. The findings entail ‘answers’ to 4 particular review questions regarding current (1) Conceptualizations of MA, (2) Overall explanatory models of agency, (3) Social roles of MA and, (4) Sources of MA practice – questions which are all derived from what I refer to as ‘A Basic Model of institutional theorizing (ABM)’.Overall, this review provides maps which are previously not pursued for this literature for the areas of each respective review question. Within such broader achievements, it identifies five ontological approaches to a relationship between social structure and agency instead of the established three. It also adds four social roles of MA previously not discussed for this literature. Finally, it suggests a uniform set of ‘sources of MA practice’ unlike the current literature that typically separates sources of continuity, change, homogeneity or heterogeneity respectively. The thesis concludes with a discussion of key findings and contributions, based on which a number of avenues for future institutionalist conceptualization and modelling of MA are suggested.