Theorising strategic investment decision-making using strong structuration theory

Elaine Pamela Harris, Deryl Northcott, Moataz Moamen Elmassri, Jari Huikku

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: In the field of strategic investment decision making (SIDM) a body of research has grown up via international case studies and organisation-based fieldwork. However, there has been little systematic theorisation around SIDM processes and practices. The purpose of this paper is to show how strong structuration theory (SST) can be employed to guide how future SIDM studies are conducted and theorised. Design/methodology/approach: The authors draw upon the concepts from SST to reanalyse prior empirically based work. The authors apply SST-informed analysis to four SIDM case studies selected from the total of 18 published over the period 1970-2016 to explore the utility of SST compared with other approaches. Findings: The analysis highlights the role of agents’ knowledgeability and position-practice relations in SIDM, which has largely been neglected by prior studies. The authors demonstrate the potential of SST to inform meso-level theorising by applying it to four published case studies. Whilst the authors argue for the adoption of SST, the authors also identify key methodological and conceptual issues in using SST in SIDM research. Research limitations/implications: The examples and recommendations could assist management accounting researchers, particularly those engaged in case studies and organisational fieldwork, to build knowledge via the improved comparison, integration and theorisation of cases undertaken by different researchers in different contexts. Originality/value: The authors offer a bridge between SST concepts and case study evidence for theorising, carrying out and analysing case study and field research on SIDM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1177-1203
Number of pages27
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Agents
  • Field work
  • Investment appraisal
  • Managerial judgement
  • Strategic decision making
  • Structuration theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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