Management accounting as practice

Thomas Ahrens, Christopher S. Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

365 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper we outline a distinctive practice theory approach to considering the role of management accounting in the constitution of organizations. Building on [Schatzki, T.R. (2002). The site of the social: a philosophical account of the constitution of social life and change. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press] notion of arrays of activity we emphasise the ways in which organisational members actively reconstitute their management control systems by drawing on them as a shared resource. By tracing the skilful practices through which social actors in a restaurant chain understand and mobilise accounting to contribute in specific ways to what they regard as the objectives of their organisational units, we develop a notion of situated functionality. Situating the interrelationships between technical and interpretive accounting processes in the wider field of organisational practices we elaborate the ways in which management control systems as structures of intentionality both shape and are shaped by shared norms and understandings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Information Systems and Management


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