R. Colignon, M. Covaleski
Accounting Organizations and Society
Abstract Managerial accounting practices are organizational control mechanisms which serve to constrain decision-makers yet, themselves, are the outcomes of emergent resistance, force and bargaining. The contradictory nature of managerial accounting practices as a form of social control is illustrated by a study of one firm's accounting practices before and after a severe financial crisis. Here, managerial accounting is seen as a dynamic process of mutual adjustment, changing and being changed by the wider organization. Assessment of the process of mutual adjustment reveals an unfolding, reflexive decision-making process in which accounting strategies are designed to centralize the direction of resources and the monitoring of division performance. However, these accounting rules and procedures are neither neutral nor uncontested, as divisional controllers resist corporate decision-makers. New patterns of organizational autonomy and interdependency are highlighted and created by these accounting practices, as managerial interdependencies are more tightly woven around centralized corporate missions.