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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Advances in Accounting, Volume 27, Issue 2, December 2011, Pages 266–277
This paper is concerned with an empirical investigation into the relations among competition, delegation, management accounting and control systems (MACS) change and organizational performance. It follows a standard contingency type path modeling to propose that intensity of competition causes firms to change their MACS and that this change enhances their performance. Delegation of authority is implicated in the model as competition encourages delegation, and this in turn causes the change in MACS, as well as enhancing performance directly. The results from a sample of Australian strategic business units indicate that (1) increased competition results in improved organizational performance indirectly through a greater number of changes in MACS, and (2) increased delegation of authority to lower level management leads to higher organizational performance. These results contribute to the management accounting change literature by providing empirical evidence that the relationship between competition and organizational performance is mediated by a decentralized organizational form and changes in MACS of the firm.
In recent years, scholars have suggested that today's organizations need modern management accounting and control systems (MACS)1 to adapt to the rapidly changing organizational and social environment (Abernethy and Bouwens, 2005, Abernethy and Lillis, 1995, Abernethy and Lillis, 2001, Abernethy and Stoelwinder, 1991, Baines and Langfield-Smith, 2003, Cavalluzzo and Ittner, 2004, Emsley et al., 2006, Foster and Swenson, 1997, Libby and Waterhouse, 1996, Shields, 1995, Shields and McEwen, 1996 and Williams and Seaman, 2001). There is the view that modern MACS (such as activity-based costing, activity-based management, target costing, product life cycle costing, and balanced scorecard-type performance measures) produce relevant information that provides senior executives and other personnel with continuous signals as to what is most important in their daily organizational decision-making and operational activities (Anderson, 1995, Anderson and Young, 1999, Chenhall, 2003, Drake and Haka, 2008, Hoque and James, 2000, Kaplan and Norton, 1996 and Moers, 2006). While prior management accounting studies have examined the relationships among environments, organizational characteristics, control systems, and performance (e.g. Abernethy and Bouwens, 2005, Baines and Langfield-Smith, 2003, Brownell and McInnes, 1986, Cavalluzzo and Ittner, 2004, Chenhall and Brownell, 1988, Emsley et al., 2006, Kren, 1992 and Nouri and Parker, 1998), there has been little systematic empirical examination of whether organizational performance2 is influenced by competition, delegation of decision making authority to lower level managers and changes in MACS.3 This study fills this knowledge gap in current management accounting research. It makes several contributions to our understanding of the antecedents or environmental conditions under which MACS might be used to impact performance. Firstly, it extends prior MACS change studies of Libby and Waterhouse, 1996 and Williams and Seaman, 2001 by providing additional evidence on linking antecedents of changes in MACS with organizational performance, which has not been explored by these two studies. Secondly, this study provides additional insights into our understanding of the mediating effects of delegation of authority and changes in MACS, individually and jointly, on the relationship between competition and performance. This issue is not well developed in the current management accounting research literature. Finally, the study's use of a path approach in theorizing the research problems facilitates the generation of valuable insights into the subject phenomenon. The next section presents a literature review and develops the hypotheses. Section 3 describes the research method. Next, Section 4 presents the research results. The final section offers conclusions and outlines the limitations of the study.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study makes several contributions to the management accounting literature. First, the positive association between competition and delegation of authority reported in this paper suggests that when firms face increased competition in the marketplace they tend to delegate more decision-making powers to lower- or local-level managers, so that quicker and more effective decisions can be made at the local entity level. This result is consistent with the view put forward by organizational theorists that in a highly competitive environment a greater emphasis should be placed by senior management on delegating more authority to lower-level management (e.g. Burns and Stalker, 1961 and Chandler, 1962). In the management accounting research literature, it is also evident that the greater the environmental complexity, the greater the level of delegation of authority to lower-level management of the firm (e.g. Bruns and Waterhouse, 1975, Chenhall and Morris, 1986, Hoque and Hopper, 1997 and Merchant, 1984). Second, it appears from the results presented in this paper that delegation does not lead to changes in MACS to affect organizational performance. Such an insignificant link between the delegation of authority and changes in MACS could be due to little variation in the delegation of authority variable in the sampled organizations. Further, this evidence also indicates that the delegation of authority and management accounting practices can be simultaneously determined because they can be complement or substitutes. Third, the results also provide support for a positive association between competition and changes in MACS. An interpretation of this result is that when organizations experience an intense competitive business environment, they become less stable and face market uncertainty; therefore these firms tend to initiate more changes in MACS to address issues resulting from high competitive uncertainty. This result is also consistent with the view put forward by prior management accounting research that the greater the competition, the greater the need for sophisticated management control tools that can provide managers with high quality information for improved decision-making, so that organizations are able to enhance their competitiveness (e.g. Cooper, 1995, DeFond and Park, 1999, Hoque et al., 2001, Hoque and James, 2000, Kaplan and Norton, 1996, Khandwalla, 1972, Krishnan, 2005 and Lynch and Cross, 1991). In addition to this direct relationship, the results in this study also indicate that those organizations that face intense competition become more interested in attempting a greater number of changes in MACS, which in turn, heighten their organization's performance. In other words, we should see more change or less change in MACS depending on the level of environmental uncertainty. Fourth, in the current study the change in MACS was found to be an important influential factor of organizational performance, which was evidenced by a significant direct association between the number of changes in MACS and organizational performance. This result suggests that more changes in MACS mean greater organizational capacity to build accurate and useful information for effective decision making processes, which in turn, will have a positive impact on organizational performance. This finding does not support prior studies (for example, see Abernethy and Lillis, 2001, Abernethy and Bouwens, 2005, Bruns, 1987, Cavalluzzo and Ittner, 2004, Cooper et al., 1992 and Innes and Mitchell, 1991), with the exception of Baines and Langfield-Smith (2003), which suggests that management accounting innovations do not always lead to improve organizational performance. Fifth, a significant finding of this study is the presence of a relationship between competition and organizational performance which is due to two important mediators — delegation of authority and changes in MACS. These results suggest that competition affects organizational performance via the organization's level of delegation of authority to lower-level managers and changes in MACS. However, one may argue that if a firm has already developed an appropriate management accounting system given its level of competition and delegation of authority, why change it? Based on the empirical evidence in this paper, it can be argued that as competition and level of delegation increase, most existing MACS no longer appropriate or there have been so many MACS innovations in the previous few years that existing MACS have become outdated. As discussed above, the two options under study here – delegating powers to lower level managers and changing existing MACS – appear to be influential forces for a positive relationship between competition and firm performance. This study opens up avenues for future research to explore what other ways the relationship between competition and firm performance might be improved. Should more resources be channeled into hiring more skilled or technical people to increase firm capacity to learn and grow? Or should firms implement more sophisticated production technology and IT support to address increased competitiveness facing the firm? What should be the role of management accounting control systems in this context? Further, it might be possible that delegation may encourage the adoption of one practice, such as budgets to act as an integrative mechanism, while intensity of competition may encourage firms to move to a beyond budgeting agenda and drop conventional budgets. Future research may be undertaken to explore this idea that will provide much insights into the processes involved in MACS change. As in most prior studies, the results presented in this paper should be interpreted in terms of the study's limitations that might be addressed by future research. Firstly, due to the study's small number of cases (34), any generalization of the study's results to manufacturing firms or beyond cannot be made without considerable caution. Further research with a large cross sectional dataset needs to be conducted to establish a firm conclusion on the phenomena under study. Secondly, the firm performance is measured perceptually, which is a common choice of survey researchers. This study asked the respondents (CFOs) in the survey to provide “hard” performance measures, such as profitability and growth rates, but about 80% of the respondents did not provide any such hard measures of performance. Consistent with most prior management accounting research, this study used “soft” measures of firm performance. Future research can explore whether the theoretical model in Fig. 1 in this paper fits the data better than other specifications of models with the study's four categories of variables — intensity of competition, delegation of authority, changes in MACS, and organizational performance. Such tests require much more data than is available in the current study. Finally, future research could come up with an improved measurement of changes in MACS, which would be a useful extension. Notwithstanding the above limitations, this study has added to the limited body of knowledge concerning the linkages between environment, MACS, and performance by providing evidence that the relationship between intensity of competition and organizational performance is likely to be mediated by delegation of authority and changes in management accounting systems of the firm.