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|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|2623||2002||21 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Volume 13, Issue 3, June 2002, Pages 311–331
Research dealing with the implementation of system changes such as activity-based costing (ABC) systems is founded largely on a presumption that the motivation for the innovation is economic. The definition of success or failure then rests on the project’s reaching a stage of implementation where the new data are used in routine and/or unforeseen ways to improve economic efficiency. This paper presents a view of an ABC project where complex motivations, both economic and institutional, are identified, these held in turn by different groups within the organization as well as external groups likely to be affected by the project. Seen in terms of its institutional motivations, the project, documented in an internal review as a failure because it was abandoned without using the data, can be defined as a success by at least some of the affected groups.
This paper explores the motivations of different internal stakeholders with respect to an activity-based costing (ABC) project initiated by the Chief Management Accountant of a mediumsized Australian regional bank. It relies on industry and in-ternal archival sources supplemented by interviews with banking industry personnel to understand the project’s original design, the process of its development, and its ultimate lapse without use. The extant body of implementation failure literature rests largely on views of innovation motivated by rational economic, technical, or behavioural theoretical frameworks. This paper relies on insights from institutional theory to hypothesize another motivation for undertaking an ABC project, and to explore notions of hidden agenda, and different agenda at different levels within the organization, such as were proposed by Freidman and Lyne (1999, p. 10). From the mid-1980s extending through the 1990s a stream of research literature has dealt with the challenges organizations face when implementing control system changes. Models for avoiding failure have stressed the behavioural challenges in successfully implementing changes either generally (Shields & Young, 1989) or speciﬁcally in relation to ABC systems (Argyris & Kaplan, 1994). Anderson (1995) developed a framework for assessing change using an ABC implementation at General Motors, and Gosselin (1997) deﬁned different stages of the process of diffusion of ABC innovations. Other researchers empirically investigated variables associated with successful change (Shields, 1995), and with ABC implementation failure (Roberts & Silvester, 1996). Underlying this literature is the presumption that the motivation for implementing control system changes such as an ABC system is the pursuit of favourable economic outcomes such as can arise from improved processes and better data to support decision-making. The deﬁnition of a successful ABC system is complex. Krumwiede (1998) deﬁnes successful implementation as the use of ABC for decision-making beyond the accounting function. By contrast, Malmi (1997) documents the case of an organization where one group of users assessed an ABC implementation as a success at the same time that another considered it to be a failure. In the case described by Malmi, the senior management group found the ABC data useful, not because of any decision-making capability it delivered, but because it conﬁrmed their understanding of appropriate strategic direction. The operational group, who would normally be expected to use ABC for day to day decision-making, already had other informal data that they considered served this purpose well, and resisted the ABC study for reasons associated with their engineering culture and possible loss of autonomy to an accounting initiative. Freidman and Lyne (1999) discuss the difﬁculties of deﬁning success or failure of ABC systems, and describe ﬁve widely used criteria against which success and failure are regularly benchmarked. The ﬁve criteria are improved decision- making, regular maintenance of the system, improved ﬁnancial position, meets general objectives articulated for the system, and passes an ex post cost–beneﬁt evaluation (pp 8–11). Of the ﬁve, criteria one to three, and ﬁve, are unambiguously economic. The remaining criterion—described as “meets general objectives”— could be economic or not, depending on its deﬁnition by initiators and users of the project. Freidman and Lyne point out that success need not be absolute but can be mixed with some degree of failure, and offer the following deﬁnition of “clear” success (p. 15): Clear success of an activity-based technique occurs either when a substantial proportion of the initial objectives have been met, or where signiﬁcant beneﬁts from the use of the technique have been recognized. However, even this deﬁnition may be subject to dispute: for example, what is “a substantial proportion” of initial objectives? How would the deﬁnition be operationalized if the original objectives were altered during the course of the project? And of particular relevance to the case reported in this paper, what of the circumstances where there exist objectives beyond those that are formally set out for the project? Freidman and Lyne (1999, p. 10) describe this situation as “different groups and levels within an organization [having] hidden agendas”. Whilst these studies have enhanced our understanding of the implementation process and its outcomes from both technical and behavioural viewpoints, there remain unanswered puzzles in the continuing stream of apparently justiﬁablechange projects, which do not come to fruition in the sense of being used for decision-making (Krumwiede, 1998; Freidman & Lyne, 1999). For example, survey research in the Australian banking sector reported that in 1995 three-quarters of respondents expected an increase in business process re-engineering projects in forthcoming periods, despite also reporting a success rate (undeﬁned) of less than 50% on similar previous projects (KPMG, 1996). In this paper, the bank’s formal objectives for the project are re-visited in the context of its documented behaviour, and we attempt to identify different agenda and motivations within different groups of stakeholders. The approach adopted takes note of Scott (1987, p. 504) who cautioned that the application of institutional theory must “attempt to rule out an obvious competing explanation: that the changes are embraced for efﬁciency reasons—because they are expected to improve technical performance”. The paper explores the bank’s motivations and behaviour with respect to their ABC project through the lens of the institutional concept of legitimacy, and its associated construct of mimetic isomorphism—copying the practices of other successful players in the same industry. We deduce from that process the presence of a competing set of motivations not wholly consistent with the pursuit of economic beneﬁts from improved cost systems, and hypothesize a hidden (institutional) agenda (Freidman & Lyne, 1999). These non-economic motivations in turn support a richer set of conclusions about the success or failure of Regional Bank’s ABC project. In adopting this alternative theoretical framework we extend the management accounting literature by combining the multi-dimensional ideas of success or failure proposed by Freidman and Lyne (1999) and the competing assessments by different stakeholders observed by Malmi (1997). The paper is structured as follows. The next section describes the archival sources that provide the two descriptions of the ABC project, and the analytical approach followed in interpreting the bank’s motivations and behaviour. The following section describes the Australian banking industry environment at the time of the project, and explains why Regional Bank and the industry combined to provide an appropriate vehicle for exploring the “hidden agenda” of success or failure. In the following section the details of the project are presented, together with discussion of changes in its direction as it progressed. The next section discusses the implication of the changes and the conduct of the project, interpreting them through the institutional framework, and the ﬁnal section concludes the paper.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Using the Regional Bank case, the progress of an ABC study was tracked using archival sources, supplemented by other information that is on the public record as well as interviews with bank industry experts. The case illustrates the argument of Freidman and Lyne that different groups and levels within an organization may hold different agenda for the same project (1999, p. 10), and further, that some of these agenda may be hidden, rather than formally articulated. The consultant’s assessment of success seems entirely justiﬁable if the success criterion is taken to be the Freidman and Lyne (1999) fourth criterion—that of meeting general objectives articulated for the system. Although there aredisagreements about some of the technical aspects of the ABC system, there is little doubt that the system they ultimately delivered was largely consistent with those terms, even though its outputs were never used for those or any other purposes. The Bank’s position is more complex. Consistent with Freidman and Lyne (1999) we identiﬁed three different sets of motivations vesting in the ABC project, and hence three different agenda in its conduct. The three were those who were pro-active in dealing with cost control and management processes (such as the project’s initiator), those within the organization who stood potentially to lose either power or their jobs through re-engineering and downsizing, and those who looked for ways to strengthen their position through building a relationship with external takeholders in a turbulent industry environment (top management). Of the three, only the economic motivations of the ﬁrst group were formally articulated. The second group, those who stood to lose through re-distribution of power and/or loss of jobs, have long been acknowledged in the implementation literature (Shields & Young, 1989; Argyris & Kaplan, 1994), along with their propensity to resist and ultimately prevent change. The diverse interests of the third, top management group, has only recently been separately articulated, for example in Malmi (1997). Malmi (1997) documents a top management agenda that was not hidden, and whose underpinnings were economic, just as the decision-making motivation is economic. However, the time frame of that agenda was long term (strategic), rather than short term (operational). Taking Malmi’s case and Regional Bank together enables the development of an expanded framework for understanding the different motivations of change projects such as ABC systems. Management accounting recognizes the difference between top level tasks and management’s strategic orientation, and lower and operational level tasks and their tactical orientation. It also recognizes that these different organizational players have different informational needs, and respond to different performancemeasurement and reward regimes. It seems but a short step to propose that they will also have different objectives with respect to change programmes, and seek different outcomes from them as a result. Economic objectives can be seen as either strategic (long term) or operational (short term), and in both cases relate to the different management tasks at different levels, but why should it be expected that the only beneﬁts sought from an ABC system will be economic, either strategic or operational? Consequently, we propose a richer framework through which to view the motivations of a project than the overwhelmingly economic one that has so far prevailed. Economic motivations are inwardly focused, with managers seeking either better operational tools, or better strategic tools consistent with the range of their managerial tasks. Beyond this internal focus lies an external institutional focus, having as its primary goal the survival of the institution via the mediumof community support and approval. Of course success with the external institutional agenda must be backed up by economic success (as occurs in a successful organization, wanted and approved by the community), but it differs from the internal economic focus in that its primary goal is survival. A proposed framework follows in Table 2. There is no reason why an economic agenda should not be widely publicized, and in Regional Bank’s case, it was formalized in the consultant’s terms of reference.However, it seems probable that an institutional agenda may one of the more subtle weapons in the corporate armoury of survival, and may tend to remain as a “hidden agenda”. This is an empirical question that future research can answer. In this case, the hypothesized institutional agenda had to be inferred from the behaviour and public statements made by its top management. It is also possible to hypothesize another, personal set of motivations overlaying the economic and institutional ones. Improving organizational economic outcomes through more efﬁcient processes and structures implies there will be some losers. Within Regional Bank, the institutional objective was attractive to top management because it held out the promise of improving their own survival along with the organization. Additionally, it posed no threat to the other two groups of players because it did not necessitate extensive re-structuring in the interests of better economics. By contrast, the economic agenda would have been welcomed by those responsible for managing the economic performance of the organization (the ﬁnance function, and top management), but would have threatened the interests of mangers and operational staff in departments and processes potentially subject to re-engineering. On balance, the institutional agenda, although implicit, would have been more widely approved than the economic. The case has implications for other studies of implementation success and failure. Whilst the success or otherwise of any organizational change can best be assessed in terms of its objectives (Freidman & Lyne, 1999), those objectives may differ between different management levels and different parts of the organization, with some being clearly articulated and others remaining implicit. Failure to implement an innovation in the economic sense of its routine use within the organization would not constitute failure of the ABC project in this case if, as argued, its (alternative) goals were not the economic goals presumed for it by the bank’s case writer. In conclusion, the limitations of the archival research method underpinning this research are acknowledged, as well as the possibility of reporter bias. While attempts were made to obtain further details about the conduct of the project with some degree of success, there remain unanswered questions since the bank no longer employs many of the personnel who were involved. In spite of these limitations, important aspects in the case (for example, the terms of reference of the engagement and the outcome of the project) are not at issue between the two reports, reinforcing the credibility of both core sources. On balance, we believe that an extended economic/ institutional set of objectives provides a richer explanation of the conduct of the bank’s ABC project than do the economic explanations on their own.