عوامل محرک سازمانی انطباق - شواهد مربوط به حسابداری مدیریت از برزیل و آلمان
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|10315||2013||14 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Business Review, Volume 22, Issue 2, April 2013, Pages 466–479
This paper contributes to the discussion of international convergence in management accounting, which has included only limited empirical data. Building on institutional theory, we have analysed cross-sectional field study data from a unique set of manufacturing companies in Brazil and Germany. Our data suggest that management accounting structures and practices in both countries are converging towards international standards under the pressure of coercive, mimetic and normative isomorphism. Although firms generally tend to adopt Anglo-American practices, we also find that German management accounting concepts have a strong influence in Brazil. In addition to elaborating on the imitation of international best practices and standardised information systems, we show the pressures created by the adoption of the International Financial Reporting Standards and the pursuit of legitimacy via adherence to social expectations.
The international convergence of structures, processes and practices has been suggested by a small but increasing stream of literature in the field of comparative management accounting (CMA) (Granlund and Lukka, 1998, Shields, 1998 and Van der Stede, 2003). In this context, the literature indicates the dominance of pressures that lead to convergence (including the pressures of globalisation, information technologies and transnational trade agreements) over drivers that encourage divergence (such as national and corporate culture, national legislation and institutions). Still, the convergence of management accounting (MA) practices in international business builds on few sound, theory-based explanations and is only supported by scarce empirical evidence. In contrast, most CMA studies are based on contingency theory (e.g., Jones et al., 1993, Joshi, 2001 and Luther and Longden, 2001). However, this approach mainly highlights the differences between structures and processes that emerge as a consequence of adaptation to specific contexts (Otley, 1980). Therefore, we combine institutional theory with theoretical and empirical insights from accounting research to analyse the adaptive pressure that is placed on MA by institutional norms and standards. In particular, we rely on institutional isomorphism in exploring the convergence processes revealed by our qualitative empirical data from Brazil and Germany. The concept of institutional isomorphism explains the harmonisation of organisational structures through coercive, mimetic and normative processes ( DiMaggio and Powell, 1983, Galaskiewicz and Wasserman, 1989 and Zucker, 1987) and has been widely used in management studies (e.g., Deephouse, 1996, Guler et al., 2002, Kostova and Roth, 2002 and Mizruchi and Fein, 1999). In the field of MA, empirical data on international convergence exist only for particular European countries, the U.S. and Japan (Carr, 2005 and Granlund and Lukka, 1998). In this context, we contribute to the existing literature in two ways. First, we explore institutional isomorphism in MA. Constituting a long-standing tradition in organisational research, institutional theory has been proven to generate promising insights (Heugens and Lander, 2009 and Kostova et al., 2008). Second, we consider the need to include emerging economies in studies of international business and CMA. In this way, we respond to the recent call by Endenich, Brandau, and Hoffjan (2011) to diversify both the theoretical approaches and research designs used in this area while particularly addressing emerging economies. Our focus on Brazil and Germany allows us to directly compare the impact of international convergence pressures on industrialised and emerging economies and also takes into account the historically strong business relationships between the two countries. In Brazil, for example, there are more than 1200 German subsidiaries with nearly 250,000 employees, which raises the question of mutual mimetic influence (Kaufmann, Panhans, Hagemann, & Schierenbeck, 2006). Additionally, by including Brazil as an object of analysis, we also recognise the increasing economic importance of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) economies. Whereas MA in transition countries such as India or China has been previously studied (Anderson and Lanen, 1999, Joshi, 2001 and Lin and Yu, 2002), empirical evidence on MA in Brazil is scarce. Building on these considerations, our study addresses two central research themes. We analyse international convergence in MA and explain our findings using an interdisciplinary approach based on insights from comparative accounting studies and institutional theory. Furthermore, we explore which practices and standards serve as international reference models, and we examine how these models are conveyed. Our analysis relies on data from a cross-sectional field study. Our matched-sample approach with regard to size, industry and legal form helps us to control for the influence of those factors on our data. The remainder of this paper is structured as follows. In the next section, we provide a review of the relevant CMA literature. Section 3 describes our institutional theory approach, whereas Section 4 explains our research methodology. In Section 5, we present the results of our field study, which are discussed in the final section.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The objective of this paper was to explore convergence and isomorphic processes in MA in a comparative international setting. We use institutional theory to interpret drivers of change and pressure to conform. Our study provides two major contributions. First, we obtain rich qualitative data on the development of MA structures by directly comparing an industrialised and an emerging economy using a matched-sample field study. Thereby, we extend the existing research on CMA, which has traditionally focussed on industrialised countries. Second, we add to the relatively scarce findings on cross-country convergence in the area of MA, analysing the effects of institutional isomorphism with reference to findings from other areas of management and business administration such as international expansion, entry mode choices and HR practices. We focus on large listed manufacturing companies from Brazil and Germany and find that our sample firms have started to reconfigure their MA systems in such a way that they are compatible with international standards and perceived best practices. Overall, our findings suggest a convergence of MA practices in the Brazilian and German companies we studied, primarily towards the Anglophone model. In this context, the implementation of the IFRS, the introduction of modern MA tools promoted by international consultancy firms and the internationalisation of university education constitute the main drivers of change. Furthermore, we show that German practices have become integrated into Brazilian MA through ERP software and the movement of executives between jobs. We find support for all three isomorphic mechanisms proposed by DiMaggio and Powell (1983). Coercive pressure on MA has emerged from the adoption of the IFRS. The application of the IFRS has obvious benefits for external stakeholders because they can more easily evaluate investment opportunities (Weißenberger, Stahl, & Vorstius, 2004). However, the adoption of the new accounting model can also prove beneficial from a management perspective. In addition to ensuring improved global comparability, the implementation of the IFRS provides incentives to reduce redundancies that may have accumulated over time and thus to rejuvenate MA. For example, the German companies from our sample have introduced the Anglo-American general ledger and now use IFRS data for MA. Similarly, the Brazilian firms that seek to establish conformity with the IFRS in their internal reporting indicate the trend towards international convergence in this area. Against this backdrop, we argue that the MA information provided to facilitate managerial decision-making is becoming increasingly similar in those countries that already use the IFRS regime. In light of the SEC plans to allow the use of the IFRS by US companies (Daske, Hail, Leuz, & Verdi, 2008), we assume that this convergence process will further accelerate in the future. Moreover, the IFRS and US-GAAP standard-setters have agreed to harmonise their respective standards to better align their agendas and to improve the global comparability of financial statements (Hail, Leuz, & Wysocki, 2010). Because the previous research on the IFRS has mainly focussed on their implications for investors, we recommend that more in-depth studies be conducted of their impact on MA. We find that mimetic isomorphism promotes the conversion of information technology from scattered applications to standardised ERP systems. Furthermore, benchmarking activities are important drivers of the advancement and international convergence of MA practices. In these processes, multinational software companies and the major consultancy firms act as business service providers and foster the institutionalisation of practices that are, over time, perceived as sources of legitimacy. Our findings suggest that companies from both countries have willingly adopted a “follow the leader” mentality ( Brown, 2011 and Haveman, 1993) in the acquisition of best-practice technology. This behaviour also entails strong signalling effects because it allows companies to demonstrate to their competitors, clients, governmental institutions and to future employees that they are “keeping up” with the state-of-the-art in MA. We argue that the German companies have benefited from their gradual long-term corporate development in a stable export-oriented economy and their stepwise international expansion. In contrast, our Brazilian companies faced a sudden shift from national business operations to international exposure and rapid growth through acquisitions. In some cases, across-the-board implementation of the latest ERP systems and MA tools was required after a relatively short period of business processes analysis, which had negative consequences for operations. In these cases, however, the firms were able to signal to their stakeholders that they were up to date with regard to technology, which clearly offset the challenges that they encountered in transforming their MA structures. In addition to creating signalling effects, the successful implementation of ERP systems substantially reduces the time spent on manual processes and routine work in MA. We argue that management accountants may use this opportunity to focus on strategic interventions and strengthen their own position within their company as corporate business analysts. On a more general level, we suggest that international convergence as a result of mimetic isomorphism will also affect other business functions such as marketing and HR because ERP systems represent the main interface for the functional integration of business processes. Thus, the dynamic evolution of MA in Brazilian and German companies may serve as a reference model for developments in other functional areas. With respect to benchmarking, we conclude that mimetic isomorphism leads to the identification and imitation of established practices. However, it is noteworthy that the corporations we studied did not systematically account for the actual competitive advantage that might be created by the practices and structures adopted. “Best practices” were identified based on their dissemination across relevant competitors and the firms did not analyse whether these reference models actually improved efficiency. The companies from our sample defined and evaluated benefits mainly by examining gains in legitimacy that might accrue through the change process. Based on our findings, we argue that in convergence processes, the quest for legitimacy may sometimes outweigh economic reasoning. Thus, we recommend a more in-depth analysis of the potential trade-off between conformity and performance, as suggested by Barreto and Baden-Fuller (2006). We identify the consequences of normative isomorphism for MA in both countries. Our findings indicate that – as in other emerging economies (Kwok & Reeb, 2000) – inadequate education and training of the local workforce has substantially affected the Brazilian business environment in the past. However, as companies grow through acquisitions and expansion into foreign markets, they increasingly depend on professional management structures. The demand for professionals has led to important changes in management education through the restructuring of business programmes and the importation of substantial amounts of knowledge. Our results indicate that in Brazil and Germany, this process is directly market-driven, as proposed by Greenwood et al. (2002), whereas institutionalisation through professional bodies plays a minor role. Based on our findings, we conclude that the three mechanisms of institutional isomorphism are intertwined in shaping MA in Brazil and Germany. The companies that we studied implement international MA practices as a consequence of mimetic isomorphism and therefore attach importance to the recruitment of graduates who are familiar with these practices. In this way, firms try to ensure that MA tools are used in the intended manner. Simultaneously, university education shapes students’ ideas regarding state-of-the-art MA practices. In competing for outstanding graduates, companies have an incentive to implement modern MA practices to meet the expectations of candidates. Therefore, we argue that normative isomorphism causes the most profound changes in the MA context because it affects fundamental social characteristics such as the mental models employed by managers and approaches to business ethics. Given that Heugens and Lander (2009) find that only the influence of mimetic isomorphism is generalisable across different organisational settings, we propose further research on normative isomorphism in the international business context. Such analyses may provide revealing insights, particularly with respect to the long-term transformational effects of normative isomorphism on social expectations. Our results clearly challenge the propositions of contingency theory, which suggests that companies adapt their structures and processes to the characteristics of their environment (Otley, 1980). This assumption has produced a rich stream of research that has indicated the influence of differences in contingency variables on MA (Chenhall, 2003). Because Brazil and Germany differ substantially with regard to the relevant country-specific dimensions of environmental uncertainty and national culture, the MA systems used in the two countries could be expected to reflect these conditions. However, our results suggest that institutional pressures override country-specific influences on the configuration of MA systems. Based on our exploratory findings, we expect that future research that draws on institutional theory will enrich our understanding of how MA practices converge at the global level. Our study has several limitations. First, our research design is subject to the standard restrictions of cross-sectional field studies, which seek to contribute meaningful qualitative data to the analysis of complex theoretical constructs (Lillis & Mundy, 2005). Our approach is consistent with that of other relevant studies of MA in emerging economies and reflects the scarce empirical findings on institutional isomorphism in this context as well as the particularities of conducting empirical studies in Latin America. We account for the dynamics of convergence benefiting from the long-term professional experience of our interviewees. These efforts were facilitated by our qualitative design. In this context, we recommend that longitudinal studies be conducted to further analyse the long-term implications of changes in accounting standards and the consequences of potentially inefficient structures that have been implemented due to institutional pressure. Furthermore, research designs such as surveys may prove valuable in the analysis of institutional isomorphism in comparative studies of MA on a more general level.