تجزیه و تحلیل ساختاردهی سیستم حسابداری و سیستم های مسئولیت پذیری در صنعت خصوصی گاز
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|21441||2005||27 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||13002 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Critical Perspectives on Accounting,, Volume 16, Issue 1, January 2005, Pages 1-26
This study investigates the consequences of regulation for management control and organisational change in privatised industries by means of a case study of the gas industry. It focuses particularly on the implications for regulation of accounting systems and systems of accountability, as important management control systems. Giddens’ [Central Problems in Social Theory: Action, Structure and Contradiction in Social Analysis, 1979; The Constitution of Society, 1984] structuration theory is adopted as an analytical framework for the study, due to its demonstrated capacity to take into account the interaction of agency and social structures in the production, reproduction and regulation of social order, together with its potential for an analysis of organisational change. This study contributes to the body of knowledge on the impact of regulation on privatised industries by providing a contextual analysis of management control and organisational change in the gas industry, and also by providing a critique of the change which has taken place.
This paper reports and analyses the findings of a case study of accounting systems and systems of accountability, important management control systems, in the British gas industry during the period 1986–1998. These developments arose in the context of broader organisational changes resulting from the transformation of the nationalised British Gas Corporation (BGC) into the privatised and regulated utility, British Gas (BG). Giddens, 1979 and Giddens, 1984 structuration theory is identified as valuable for this study, given its rejection of the subjectivist–objectivist dualism which characterises the methodological debate, and its emphasis on ‘… both the meaningful actions of individual agents and the structural features of social contexts’ (Held and Thompson, 1989, p. 3) in understanding the production, reproduction and regulation of social order. It is also demonstrated to have the potential for an analysis of organisational change, as it emphasises the importance of conflict, contradiction and unintended consequences in effecting change. Central to the paper is an examination of the way in which accounting and accountability systems can be understood in terms of the interaction of structures of signification, legitimation and domination. A case study method was selected for this research. Discussions with a broad range of senior management, targeted at individuals who had been with the company since pre-privatisation days, provided a rich source of valuable information to address the research questions of this study1. The broad spectrum of interviewees, including some individuals ‘on the other side of the fence’ from BG management, such as competitors and staff from the office of the regulator, coupled with a wide range of documentary sources, lends weight to the validity of the findings. Interview material was supplemented with desk research, including review of regulatory reports, financial statements, company documents and media coverage, as well as a review of the academic literature relating to privatisation and regulation. Before proceeding to the empirical analysis, the paper provides an overview of the main aspects of structuration theory relevant to this study, and demonstrates its suitability as a sensitising framework (Macintosh and Scapens, 1991) for an analysis of management control and organisational change in the gas industry over the 10-year period following privatisation. The paper tells the story of two major and radical transformations of a social system—BG. It does this by illuminating the main structures of signification, legitimation and domination underlying the processes of change in accounting systems and systems of accountability, important management control systems, as BG was transformed from a public utility to a still monopolistic privatised industry and finally to part of a competitive industry. Case study evidence provides the basis for an examination of the processes of change which led to the emergence of each new stage of development, with particular reference to the role of conflict and crisis in effecting change, given that the second transformation was not foreseen at the time of the first. The first empirical section examines the key public service structures which characterised the nationalised gas industry and considers the control problems which led to radical change in the form of privatisation, particularly highlighting the serious accountability problems which led to a questioning of both the organisation’s and Government’s legitimacy. The second empirical section discusses the introduction of a commercial orientation, with its new focus on profitability and shareholder value. Continuing accountability problems are highlighted, as management grapple with conflicting accountabilities to shareholders and the regulator, and the lack of adequate accountability mechanisms to ensure public accountability of the regulator is also discussed. The final empirical section shows how conflict and crisis eventually led to radical organisational change, as the regulator became more powerful, and the impact of competition and falling gas prices eventually led to the demerger of BG into two organisations. The way in which accounting is implicated in resisting or effecting organisational change also forms a key aspect of the analysis. This study aims to contribute to the literature on management control and organisational change by providing a contextual analysis of these processes in the gas industry during a period of turbulent change. It also aims to add to the literature on contextual studies of accounting, in particular in relation to the ‘transformative capacities’ (Ogden, 1995) of ‘new accountings’ (Broadbent and Guthrie, 1993 and Morgan and Willmott, 1993) in public sector organisations. In terms of methodology it endeavours to demonstrate the suitability of Giddens, 1979 and Giddens, 1984 structuration theory as a basis for a contextual study of management control and organisational change. The results of this research may have potential policy implications for the future economic and political regulation of privatised industries, given the ongoing debate in the UK and abroad about the appropriate structure of these industries and the role of regulatory bodies.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This paper has provided a structuration analysis of organisational change and management control in the privatised gas industry. Additionally, it has shown that by acknowledging the possibility of conflict and contradiction, structuration theory also provides for the critique and analysis of change. There are implications for future policy making in relation to appropriate regulatory structures for privatised industries, given that the paper highlights the far-reaching consequences for the gas industry of some of the limitations of the system of regulation introduced at privatisation. Many of the findings of this paper regarding ongoing accountability problems were substantiated in the consideration in the 1998 Green Paper, ‘A Fair Deal for Consumers’ of the same issues. In particular it discussed the need to strengthen the existing regulatory framework in order to define adequately the roles of regulator and Government, to avoid the danger of an unconstrained and unaccountable regulator. It also asserted that there was a need for more openness and accountability in regulation to ensure that it would be transparent, predictable and consistent. Recognition of the possible dangers of unconstrained competition in provision of essential services was provided in the recommendation that there should be introduced a new primary statutory duty for regulators—to protect consumers—where possible by the promotion of competition. It also suggested that consumer representation should be set on an independent statutory basis, and that regulators should be required to consult consumer bodies in reaching key decisions. These last two recommendations both recognised that competition would not necessarily best serve the interests of customers. The majority of these recommendations were enacted in legislation, under the Utilities Act 2000. As competition has been extended the regulatory bodies, far from ‘withering away’ and becoming redundant, are growing in size and influence. It remains an open and interesting question what impact the cost of regulation has had on consumer prices. The gas industry is not alone in having undergone major organisational change, with dubious benefits, in recent years. The impact of an accounting discourse is also revealed in developments during the 5 years since privatisation of the rail industry, where crisis and conflict continue. Dent (1991) ended his paper with an acknowledgement of the widespread criticism of ‘bottom-line’ orientations, such as that of the ‘business culture’, particularly for their construction of time. The short-term focus of the ‘bottom-line’ discourages technological innovation and investment in operational capability which, he says, require a longer-term, more strategic appreciation of time. The truth of this has been illustrated all too painfully with three fatal rail accidents in the last 2 years, culminating in public acknowledgement by Railtrack of many safety infringements throughout the network and of its inability to pay for the necessary investment. The privatisation and regulation debate is far from over, accountability conflicts continue and accounting continues to play a key role in constructing organisational reality in these organisations. It may yet transpire that the changes undergone as a result of the privatisation process in UK public services were to the detriment of organisational effectiveness and consequently also to the detriment of customers. This paper, by employing structuration theory in its analysis, has contributed to a better understanding of how organisational change comes about, and how accounting systems and systems of accountability are implicated in that change.