Academic journal article Journal of Management Information and Decision Sciences

Long Term Survival and Quality Information Systems: A Longitudinal Case Study

Academic journal article Journal of Management Information and Decision Sciences

Long Term Survival and Quality Information Systems: A Longitudinal Case Study

Article excerpt


Recently, several leading managerial accounting researchers have critiqued the status of research in their discipline. The following quotes demonstrate their deep concern regarding the breadth and depth of current research:

Within the enterprise, accounting has become a less isolated phenomenon as it has become embedded in massive, more generic enterprise wide management systems. It is quite explicitly a part of the wider whole. At the same time, there also has been a significant diffusion of economic calculation throughout the whole enterprise. Accounting is now practiced by many others than just accountants. The forms of economic calculation that it creates are now a part of the functioning of operations, marketing, and a multitude of other departments in the firm (Hopwood, 2007, p. 1370).

It has to be recognized that accounting research has experienced difficulty keeping up with these profound changes. Indeed, this is one of the main reasons why more and more questions are being asked about the state of the research art. We know very little about the processes and consequences of standardization and the accountings for new phenomena, let alone new issues that are emerging in the areas of different organizational forms, sustainability and so on (Hopwood, 2007, p.1370).

Normal science testing of steady-state management accounting practice, based on standard economic theory, is certainly worth-while. But this methodology should hardly be the only paradigm to guide our research. The relationship of management accounting to social sciences, such as economics, psychology, sociology, and anthropology, should be like the relationship of engineering to the physical sciences (Kaplan, 2006, p. 129-130).

To accomplish this expanded research agenda, management accountants will partner more with their organizational behavior colleagues than with their economists or finance colleagues ... (Kaplan, 2006, p. 134).

Two general observations were made by Hopwood and Kaplan about the nature of accounting studies. First, there have been few cross-disciplinary studies involving managerial accounting. Second, the use of longitudinal studies has been sparing. Because the use of longitudinal studies helps to move toward a better understanding of causation (Galbraith & Nkwenti-Zamacho, 2005; McInnes, 1990; Tsikriktsis, 2007), calls for longitudinal studies to provide information on the long term "impact of management decisions" abound in the literature (Galbraith & Nkwenti-Zamcho, 2005, p.429). To date the majority of the existing cost accounting literature has examined the strategic factors surrounding organizations at a specific point in time. These cross-sectional studies, while providing valuable information, do not provide important information that can help demonstrate causality. The purpose of this study is to fill the void in these types of accounting research by demonstrating how managerial accounting concepts can be integrated in a longitudinal, cross-disciplinary format.

In a 1988 field study, Harris examined four high-tech manufacturing firms in Massachusetts to determine whether the information provided by their cost accounting systems had an impact on their success. The findings of that study demonstrated that firms with established cost accounting systems that provide robust information in order to make both long and short term decisions were more favorably positioned to succeed over a long period of time (p. 209). Subsequent research has further analyzed the importance of providing proper information in the analyses of firms and has introduced other important strategic factors.

Since the original study was completed, three of the four manufacturing firms no longer exist as they were in 1988. Only one of the original companies studied has remained in its original form and thrived. …

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