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Management Accounting as Constructing and Opposing Customer Focus: Three case studies on management accounting and customer relations
University of Skövde, School of Technology and Society.
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is on the relation between management accounting and customer focus and relates to discussions about how internal managing processes in organizations are interrelated with interorganizational relations, specifically constructions of customers. Both a normative and a descriptive perspective on the relation are taken within the different parts of the thesis, which consists of a licentiate thesis, three articles and a synthesizing text. The purpose is to understand the interaction between management accounting and customer focus on operative levels in industrial organizations, where focus on customer has a central place. The results are also discussed with respect to its possible importance in the development of managing processes of organizations. The thesis is based on three cases, which have been studied with mainly a qualitative approach.

In the licentiate thesis, traditional accounting models, originally developed to provide information for analyzing products, are revisited under the assumption that customers and products are equally interesting to analyze. The three articles explore the role of management accounting in interpreting customers and the interface to customers. In the first article, strong customer accountability is found to override the intentions from managers, as communicated through the accounting system. Arguments of how management accounting can be perceived as inaccurate then have a central place in motivating how customers are prioritized in a way not favored by managers. Furthermore, in the second article, customers are experienced as both catalysts and frustrators to change processes and changes in management accounting are found in co-development with the different customer relations and how different customers prefer to communicate. The third article explores how coordination mechanisms operate in relation to each other in coordination of customer-supplier relationships. A strong market mechanism creates space for bureaucratic control and use of management accounting. However, the use of bureaucratic control in turn relies on social coordination between actors in order to function.

These four parts are revisited and related to each other in a synthesizing part of the thesis. The relation between management accounting and customer focus is approached in two ways. Management accounting may construct customer focus, making it impossible to distinguish between the two. However, another interpretation of the relation is management accounting and customer focus as opposing logics, where management accounting represents hierarchical influence, homogeneous control processes and cost efficient operations, and customer focus represents customer influence; control processes adapted to the customer and customized operations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköpings universitet , 2005. , 106 p.
Series
Linköping studies in science and technology, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 933
National Category
Economics and Business
Research subject
Humanities and Social sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-1636ISBN: 91-85297-64-X OAI: oai:DiVA.org:his-1636DiVA: diva2:31912
Public defence
(English)
Available from: 2007-08-03 Created: 2007-08-03 Last updated: 2013-04-16
List of papers
1. Customer focus: An accountability dilemma
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Customer focus: An accountability dilemma
2007 (English)In: The European Accounting Review, ISSN 0963-8180, E-ISSN 1468-4497, Vol. 16, no 1, 143-171 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Customer-related measures are today often included in management accounting systems. In this paper, two situations are displayed where these measures are problematic to the managing process. The main argument of the paper is that customer accountability may serve to question demands for hierarchical accountability, as put forward in management accounting systems. The paper is based on a case study, in which two groups show strong customer accountability which is disturbing to the managing process. In the first group, socializing accountability processes to the customers override hierarchical accountability concerning delivery performance. In the second group, aligned accountability to customers and managers for customer-related measures override hierarchical demands for accountability for financial performance. The argument of the paper may be taken as a basis to question the broadening of management accounting to incorporate customer-related aspects. An organization needs to be managed in a balanced way. However, it should not be taken for granted that all aspects need to be incorporated into management accounting. With strong customer accountability, management accounting may need to be devoted to classical tasks of emphasizing financial performance and formalized processes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2007
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Humanities and Social sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:his:diva-2080 (URN)10.1080/09638180701265911 (DOI)000246558200005 ()2-s2.0-34547507059 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2008-05-28 Created: 2008-05-28 Last updated: 2013-04-11Bibliographically approved
2. Customer influence on management accounting change
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Customer influence on management accounting change
2007 (English)In: European Accounting Association Annual Congress. Portugal: Lissabon, 2007Conference paper, (Refereed)
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:his:diva-2509 (URN)
Available from: 2009-01-14 Created: 2009-01-14 Last updated: 2013-06-13
3. Coordination in interorganizational relations: perspective of dominated suppliers
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Coordination in interorganizational relations: perspective of dominated suppliers
2004 (English)In: Sixth International Management Control Systems Research Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2004Conference paper, (Refereed)
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Humanities and Social sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:his:diva-2510 (URN)
Available from: 2009-01-14 Created: 2009-01-14 Last updated: 2014-08-19Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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