رواج در تحقیقات حسابداری مدیریت
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|10244||2003||19 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Scandinavian Journal of Management, Volume 19, Issue 2, June 2003, Pages 213–231
In spite of our increasing knowledge about the existing patterns in accounting research, we still have much to learn about the cross-national dynamics of research ideas. This paper addresses the ebb and flow of research fashions in management accounting among national groups of accounting scholars. We also attempt to enhance existing knowledge about the underlying reasons that differentiate between earlier and later adopters of research fashions. Drawing on the literature of institutional sociology and management fashion, definitions of the accounting organizational field and of fashions of research are first provided. We then take Activity-Based Costing (ABC) to illustrate our understanding of research fashions in management accounting. Our results provide support for the propositions that national communities with high research profiles are less vulnerable to the effects of research fashions, and that they are earlier adopters of research fashions than their counterparts with lower research profiles. Lastly, we make some suggestions for further investigation regarding the cross-national mobility of research ideas relating to management accounting.
Investigations regarding the evolution, status and future research directions of management accounting have aroused a tremendous amount of interest in recent years. Reviews to date have enhanced our understanding of a wide variety of research patterns in management accounting, ranging from review studies (Baiman, 1990; Covaleski, Dirsmith, & Samuel, 1996) through historical investigations (Loft, 1991; Luft, 1997) to methodological issues (Luft & Shields, 2000; Keating, 1995). At the same time interest in the dissemination of innovative practices in management accounting has been increasing, as can be seen from the number of studies drawing on an institutional sociology perspective (Meyer & Rowan, 1977; DiMaggio & Powell, 1983) or on the literature of management fashions (Abrahamson, 1996; Abrahamson, 1999), to address the diffusion of Activity-Based Costing system in firms (Malmi, 1999). On the other hand, no investigation of the patterns of adopting research issues has been produced by management accounting scholars. In particular, no study has been made of the dissemination of research fashions in management accounting across national groupings of scholars. Such a study would expand the universe of issues addressing the existing patterns of management accounting research, and would advance the growing sociology of management accounting. Our understanding of research vogues derives largely from the notion of management fashions. Abrahamson and Fairchild (1999, p. 709) characterize management fashions as “relatively transitory collective beliefs, disseminated by the discourse of management-knowledge entrepreneurs, that a management technique is at the forefront of rational management progress.” We focus on research vogues, transitory research agendas that draw either on innovative professional practices or on academic developments suitable for implementation in the realm of practice without further significant adaptation. This definition has three additional implications. First, it is assumed that, like aesthetic fashions (e.g. Solomon, Bamossy, & Askegaard, 1999), research vogues suddenly and dramatically create an area of interest. We therefore distinguish between research fashions and the knowledge core (e.g. Cole, 1983, pp. 114–115), a concept that is limited to the small number of ideas that are used and judged to be important long after publication (e.g. after 25 years). Second, research fashions are particularly suited to moving over country borders if they are not embedded in their primary socio-economic contexts. Lastly, research vogues differ significantly from the elegant, academic research that presently constitutes the canon of the discipline (Kaplan, 1986; Lee, 1989). Our study of research fashions in management accounting focuses on the particular case of Activity-Based Costing (ABC), which we claim is consistent with the definition of a research fashion. Fig. 1 shows the share of ABC-focused papers in the total mass of management accounting articles indexed in the ABI Inform University Microfilm Database. The data in the figure supports the bell-shaped pattern and the short-term cycle attributed to management fashions (see Abrahamson, 1996, 1991; Abrahamson & Fairchild, 1999). Further, ABC is regarded as an innovative management accounting practice (see Cooper & Kaplan, 1990; Malmi, 1999) that pervaded the academic domain to become a research agenda (see Shields, 1997; Atkinson et al., 1997 for research assessments of ABC).
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Despite the increasing interest in investigating current patterns of management accounting research and the numerous contributions of institutional sociology to our understanding of educational organizations, little is known about the cross-national dynamics of vogues in management accounting research. The aim of this paper has been to examine the ebb and flow of management accounting research fashions across national groupings of accounting scholars. The results of this study have been augmented by an empirical investigation of the British and Spanish academic communities during the period 1987–1996. As a result of our analysis of the literature of institutional sociology and management fashion, we contend that national groupings with a high research profile are (i) less vulnerable to the influence of management accounting research fashions, and (ii) are earlier adopters of research fashions than their counterparts with lower research profiles. We have distinguished between national groupings with high and low research profiles, and these categories have been exemplified by the cases of the UK and Spain respectively. We recognize that the research profile of a given country cannot be attributed solely to technical criteria such as research skills and education, but that it is also strongly influenced by a number of factors operating at the macro level such as culture, investment in R&D, traditions in the dissemination of research (see also Granlund & Lukka, 1998). Nevertheless, we contend that the magnitude of the research distance between the British and Spanish accounting communities is not a general phenomenon applying also to other fields of inquiry. Lafuente and Oro (1992), for instance, collected data from the Institute for Science Information and reported that the contribution of Spain to hard sciences (e.g. physics, biology) increased from 0.9% in 1984 to 1.6% in 1990, and peaked at 1.95% of total publications in 1992. These figures are consistently higher than the 0.21% which represents the share of the Spanish academic accounting community in publications in leading accounting journals during the period 1987–1996. Although the Spanish figures for publication in the hard sciences are still modest in absolute terms, comparable levels of research outcome would rank Spain as the fifth world country in the accounting domain. Further, Urrutia (1993) analyzed the international role of the Spanish economics and business administration communities by collecting data from the Social Sciences Citation Index. For the period 1986–1992 he reported that the British contributions was 40 times greater than that of the Spanish academics. Although this is admittedly a significant difference, our data still reveals that the contribution of British accounting publications to the top 13 accounting journals was 100 times greater than that of the Spanish national grouping. In sum, these results show that the research distance between national groupings with high and low research profiles cannot be explained exclusively by appealing to macro factors such as cultural differences. Our findings conform to the proposition that national groupings with high research profiles are more vulnerable to the effects of research fashions in management accounting than their counterparts with lower research profiles. The impact of ABC on the British accounting community exceeded 20% of all papers focused on management accounting in one year only (22.76%, 1992). In contrast, this impact was considerably higher on the Spanish accounting research community, exceeding 25% of all such papers during the period 1993–1996 and peaking at 54.83% in 1994. These results provide some insight into the overall process of imitation. The Spanish community of accounting academics, we contend, experienced a major discontinuity in the mid-1980s as an outcome of two intertwined factors. First, a new regulation was enacted in 1983 to assign more autonomy to Spanish universities and to establish new and more flexible procedures for setting up new universities and for promotion and tenure of the faculty staff. The new regulation brought about a considerable increase in the size of the Spanish community of accounting academics (for instance, the number of full professors rose from 11 in 1983 to 45 in 1994). Second, Spain's entry into the European Economic Community in 1986 fostered an increasing openness to external influences on the part of Spanish accounting scholars towards, as shown by the increasing participation of Spanish scholars in international associations (e.g. Spanish membership of the EAA rose from 16 in 1984 to 75 in 1994). In short, the concept of biographical discontinuity proposed by Giddens (1991, pp. 40–41) applied both to the recruitment of new scholars and the actual incorporation of Spain into the organizational field of higher education centres in the Western countries. This biographical disruption implied the blending of the Spanish group of accounting academics with the new (international) environment (Giddens, 1991), which involved a permanent scrutiny of international research developments and, consequently, vulnerability to the impact of research fashions in management accounting. These results have three further implications. First, we agree with the view that goal ambiguity is a driving force for imitation (Sevón, 1996). In the particular case of the Spanish academic accounting community, we observe a certain ambiguity in the goals and boundaries of accounting research, especially relative to the shared international standards of accounting research evaluation. This ambiguity is explained by two factors. The first concerns the development of a research assessment exercise programme in Spain in 1990. The programme was informed by international criteria for research evaluation such as impact indexes and publications in international refereed journals, but there were also claims for the inclusion of textbooks in the highest category of the research evaluation criteria. As Whittington (1993, p. 388) observes, similar misunderstandings also arouse in Britain, but were limited there to the faculty of new British universities. The second factor relates to the inconsistent editorial policy of most Spanish accounting journals, which do not have any distinct focus on professional or research issues. This may be attributed to some extent to the lack of incentives for accounting scholars to produce academic research (e.g. flat salaries within each professional category; see Frey, 1993, for an analysis of the research incentives in the higher education organizations of continental Europe). Second, we suggest that the process of imitation of research fashions in management accounting is also driven by the desire to avoid uncertainty (Abrahamson, 1991; DiMaggio & Powell, 1983). We claim that perceived uncertainty is related to the level of biographical discontinuity experienced by a national group (Giddens, 1991). As a research fashion, ABC represents a reliable research topic for producing short-term publications on issues such as the basis of the system and its role in the new manufacturing environment, and publications of this kind were particularly valuable when there was a big demand for accounting scholars. Third, the adoption of management accounting research fashions has a legitimating effect for scholars writing ABC papers (see Malmi, 1999 for an analysis of the diffusion of ABC in the realm of practice). Other constituents of the national grouping (e.g. auditors, controllers, consultants, other scholars, and graduate students), as readers of outlets publishing ABC papers, regard the authors concerned as change agents (Carnegie & Parker, 1996), that is, as experts who transfer innovative research ideas into the terrain of the national community. The results of a questionnaire survey on cost accounting practices provide some support for this suggestion. Carmona and Alvarez (1994) investigated the cost accounting practices of the 250 largest Spanish manufacturing companies. They found that by 1994 none of these firms had yet adopted an ABC system. In contrast, Drury and Tayles (1994) conducted a similar survey of the 250 largest British manufacturing companies and reported that approximately 13% of them had implemented, or were in the process of implementing, ABC. This evidence suggests that Spanish accounting academics did not adopt ABC in response to its previous implementation by practitioners, but that they attempted to act as possible change agents in the implementation of the technique. Our results indicate that national groupings with a lower research profile are late adopters of research fashions in management accounting. Whereas the British accounting community had published 57.14% of its total ABC papers by 1992, the Spanish accounting community had only published 4.54% of its corresponding total at that time. In other words, 95.46% of all Spanish ABC publications were concentrated to the period 1993–1996, representing a significantly higher figure than the 42.76% for its British counterpart in the same period. The Spanish accounting community was thus a later adopter of ABC than the national group of British accounting researchers. Two related reflections stem from these findings. First, it has been argued that ‘organizations seldom have direct experiences of the organizations or practices they imitate or refer to’ (Sahlin-Anderson, 1996, p. 78). Although such a contention fits well with regard to the business realm, it is less relevant to higher education organizations that are characterized by increasing interactions within the field, such as research networks, conferences, visits to other academic centres and so on. Interactions help to identify status ordering (see DiMaggio & Powell, 1983) and provide useful insights for members of the organizational field about the fashions that are being adopted by national groupings with high research profiles. Second, uncertainty avoidance is a crucial element in the adoption of research fashions, and one that also plays a significant role in explaining the pattern of imitation. By relying on the research expertise of early adopters, national groupings with low research profiles very much reduce the risk of being involved in research fashions with little potential for legitimation. Our paper also suffers from certain limitations that could suitably be tackled in future work. First, empirical evidence has been collected from examples of groupings with high and low research profiles. Here, future work on other national groupings will reveal the generalizability of our conclusions. Second, the use of descriptive data is a common methodological problem when it comes to accounting research dealing with bibliometric databases (see Carnaghan, Flower-Gyepesi, & Gibbins, 1994; Brown, 1996; Lukka & Kasanen, 1996; Shields, 1997 for some examples). Despite our concern to overcome this problem, we could not provide more compelling results because of the short-term nature of research fashions. This prevented us (i) from using dynamic econometric models to measure the lag in the adoption of research fashions across national communities, and (ii) from introducing control variables into the models. Future research addressing more persistent research fashions or dealing with the knowledge core (see Cole, 1983) may overcome this constraint. Third, we measured the research profile of national groupings by counting the contribution of individual countries to a categorization of leading accounting journals. Though this construct is widely accepted as a reliable indicator of research productivity, we admit that it may have introduced some bias into our results, as noted above. Consequently, future research using an ample range of databases (e.g. citation indexes) may cast some light upon the dynamics of research fashions. Fourth, future investigations of the way practitioners and academics influence each other (see Barley, Meyer, & Gash, 1988) will certainly contribute to our understanding of research fashions. Lastly, as predicted by the new institutionalists, imitation occurs within the organizational field. However, further research is needed to examine whether the movement in research fashions also occurs outside the organizational field.