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Management Accounting Research


Management control package; Contingency theory; Management control system; Middle range theory; Knowledge in management accounting


David Otley




This article reviews the literature on the contingency theory
of management accounting since the 1980 review by the author. It traces the
expansion of this literature and critically outlines some of the major themes
explored over this period. It argues that a mechanistic approach that will develop
into a predictive mechanism for the design of optimal control systems is
misguided. Rather the existence of management control ‘packages’ that are
continually changing and developing requires studies that follow these changes
over time and seek to explain the mechanisms that are observed to be deployed.
The ‘package’ concept has not yet been taken seriously in the design of most
empirical studies although this is fundamental to the design of future studies.
That is, different elements of control system packages are developed quasi
independently by different actors at different times and are only loosely
co-ordinated. Full coordination is precluded for several reasons, most notably
the rapid pace of change and the addition of new or amended systems at a faster
rate than the coordination process can develop. It is suggested that the narrow
view of contingency that relies on responses to generally applicable
questionnaires needs to be replaced by a more tailored approach that takes into
account the context of specific organizations.


Vol 31, Tahun 2016


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