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Management Accounting Practice and Strategic Behavior

On the Dysfunctional Effect of Short-Term Budgetary Goals on Managerial Long-Term Growth Orientation

AutorOliver Gediehn
VerlagGabler Verlag
Seitenanzahl195 Seiten
Preis46,99 EUR
Oliver Gediehn examines the determinants of managerial long-term (growth) orientation. Quantitative evidence casts serious doubts on the existence of a dysfunctional effect between the emphasis on short-term goals and myopic management behavior.

Dr. Oliver Gediehn completed his doctoral thesis at the Chair of Management Accounting and Control at the European Business School, Oestrich-Winkel. He works as a consultant in Berlin.

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A Introduction (p. 1)

"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning." Benjamin Franklin

1. Research Issue and Objectives

Achieving sustainable sales growth has recently been among the most important topics for business managers in large corporations. Practitioner journals portrait companies in a "do-or-die struggle" for sustained and profitable growth and explore the sources, drivers, and processes of growth.

The attempt to achieve a favorable long-term sales growth trajectory complements the continuous strive for profitability and operational excellence – and creates a latent conflict between short-term efforts for profitability and long-term concerns for growth. Academic research mirrors this conflict and its implications in the stream of literature devoted to the balancing of short-term goal achievement and the encouragement of strategic management behavior or, more generally, managerial long-term orientation.

While short-term goal achievement relates mostly to the attainment of budgetary targets8 or financial planning targets, in general, the operationalization of strategic behavior and long-term orientation is manifold.

It includes the strive for strategic renewal, innovation and adaptation, the concern for long-term positioning and growth, as well as the pursuit of entrepreneurial initiatives. A prominent topic of this stream of research is the role and relevance of management accounting.

To the most part, researchers see current management accounting systems and practices as functional with respect to short-term goal achievement but as dysfunctional or at least problematic with respect to the encouragement of strategic management behavior.

The literature on `economic short-termism` for example proposes the short-term focus on "flawed" management (accounting) practices as one potential root cause for myopic management behavior. Similarly, the Reliance on Accounting Performance Measures (RAPM) research stream assigns an excessive short-term focus as dysfunctional effect to the traditional (accounting-based) management control system.

A common characteristic of these two streams of research is the narrow quantitative empirical base. The impact of the allegedly flawed management practices on economic short-termism builds largely on theoretical arguments while the scarce empirical evidence is only circumstantial or anecdotal in nature.

The various dysfunctional consequences of RAPM including motivational aspects of job satisfaction or jobrelated tension as well as behavioral aspects such as tactical gaming or data manipulation are subjects of extensive empirical research. Yet, only few studies deal with the particular issue of managerial long-term orientation and those that do, fail to deliver conclusive results due to conceptual and methodological limitations.

In summary, the existing management accounting literature "is still inconclusive" to answer as to whether current management accounting practices and in particular the dominant RAPM practice have a dysfunctional effect on managerial long-term orientation. Consequently, the study responds to Van der Stede`s (2000, p. 120) call for future research on this topic and aims to render a more definite answer on the existence of the dysfunctional effect ideally reconciling the previous anecdotal and quantitative empirical evidence.

Reflecting the currently prevailing concern for growth in practice, the study explicitly addresses long-term growth orientation as an element of strategic management behavior and the more inclusive notion of managerial longterm orientation. This approach results in the following first research question guiding the study:

• Does RAPM have a dysfunctional effect on managerial long-term growth orientation?

The study is conducted in the tradition of Hopwood`s call to study management accounting "in the context in which it operates".
A Introduction15
1. Research Issue and Objectives15
2. Plan of the Study18
B Structuration Theory and Management Accounting Research20
1. Structuration Theory as an Ontological Frame of Reference20
1.1. Structuration Theory as Socio-Scientific Meta-Theory20
1.2. Post-Positivist Approach to Science21
1.3. Ontological Synthesis22
1.4. Duality of Structure23
1.5. Research Informed by Structuration Theory25
1.6. Critical Review on the Application of Structuration Theory32
2. Structuration Theory in Management Accounting Research35
2.1. Previous Accounting Research Informed by Structuration Theory35
2.2. Structurationist Research Perspective on Management Accounting41
2.2.1. Management Accounting as a Social Practice41
2.2.2. Management Accounting within the Social Context43
2.2.3. Social Dimensions of Management Accounting Practices44
2.2.4. Empirical Research in Management Accounting Informed by ST47
2.3. Value of ST in Management Accounting Research52
C Management Accounting and Managerial Long-Term Orientation55
1. Debate on 'Economic Short-Termism'56
2. RAPM Research59
2.1. Definition of RAPM59
2.2. Overview of the RAPM Research Stream61
2.3. RAPM and Managerial Long-Term Orientation62
2.4. Organizational Role Theory and RAPM Research64
2.4.1. Basic Concepts of Role Theory64
2.4.2. Application of Organizational Role Theory in RAPM Research66
2.5. Social Dimensions of RAPM69
3. Research Gap and Research Questions71
3.1. Research Gap71
3.1.1. Persistence of Accounting-Based Performance Measures71
3.1.2. Increasing Relevance at the Middle Management Level73
3.2. Research Scope75
3.2.1. Long-Term Growth Orientation as Part of Long-Term Orientation75
3.2.2. The Relevant Organizational Context79
3.3. Research Questions80
D Research Design81
1. Research Approach81
1.1. Case Study Approach81
1.2. Two-Staged Design82
1.3. Crucial Case Setup83
1.4. Survey Design Parameters84
2. Research Site85
E Field Interviews87
1. Purpose87
2. Method88
2.1. Selection of Informants88
2.2. Semi-Structured Interviews90
2.3. Group Discussion91
3. Results93
3.1. The Level of Managerial Long-Term Growth Orientation93
3.2. The Role and Relevance of RAPM95
3.2.1. Formal Incentive System96
3.2.2. Extent of RAPM in Practice96
3.2.3. Dysfunctional Consequences of the RAPM Practice98
3.3. Other Relevant Factors of the Organizational Context99
3.3.1. Corporate Entrepreneurship99
3.3.2. Properties of the Strategy-Making Process112
3.4. Propositions to Be Tested and Resulting Research Model118
3.4.1. Dysfunctional Effect of RAPM118
3.4.2. Impact of Corporate Entrepreneurship118
3.4.3. Impact of Strategy-Making121
3.4.4. Resulting Research Model122
F Questionnaire Survey124
1. Sample and Procedure124
2. Measures128
2.1. Measure Development128
2.2. Measure Validation132
3. Results136
3.1. Dysfunctional Effect of RAPM137
3.2. Impact of Corporate Entrepreneurship138
3.2.1. Impact of Entrepreneurial Orientation on LGO138
3.2.2. Impact of the Entrepreneurial Environment139
3.2.3. Impact of the Individual Proclivity for Entrepreneurship141
3.3. Impact of Strategy-Making143
3.4. Relative Impact of RAPM and the Other Relevant Factors144
G Discussion and Outlook149
1. Theoretical Implications149
1.1. On the Dysfunctional Effect of RAPM149
1.2. On the Other Relevant Organizational Factors151
1.3. On RAPM Research Informed by Structuration Theory155
1.4. On Management Accounting Practice and Strategic Behavior160
2. Managerial Implications163
2.1. RAPM163
2.2. Corporate Entrepreneurship164
2.3. Strategy-Making166
3. Limitations and Outlook168

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