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ABC And Organizational Change: An Institutional Perspective

K. Soin, W. Seal, John Cullen
Published 2002 · Economics

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Using institutional theory to interpret the role of management accounting in organizational change, the paper reports on a longitudinal empirical study of the implementation of an Activity-Based Costing (ABC) system in the Clearing Department of a UK-based multinational bank. Since the ABC project team was operating at the same time as other change agents (productivity consultants and human resource engineering), their inter-relationships are explored through the displacement/establishment of routines and institutionalized practices. The extent and nature of organizational change is evaluated by drawing on the dichotomies of formal versus informal change, revolutionary versus evolutionary change, and regressive versus progressive change (Burns and Scapens, 2000). Tensions were identified between the need to establish ABC as an organizational routine thereby ensuring its reproduction with the less routinized but more revolutionary aspirations of ABM. The ABC team succeeded in institutionalizing a less radical version of ABC that revealed new links between costs and products, but did not go as far as to transform the strategic thinking of the bank’s senior management.
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