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Management Accounting and Control Systems: An Organizational and Sociological Approach, 2nd Edition

Management Accounting and Control Systems: An Organizational and Sociological Approach, 2nd Edition

Norman B. Macintosh, Paolo Quattrone

ISBN: 978-0-470-97929-7

Jul 2011

378 pages



Management Accounting and Control Systems, 2nd Edition covers conventional themes of accounting and contgrol but from a different perspetive, using insights from sociological theories to understand their nature, functioning as daily practice, and the effects they have on our work lives, organizations, economies and societies. The book offers a toolbox to equip readers with a different approach to view management accounting and control systems. Utilising various sociological theories such as from labour process approaches to structuration and actor-network theories, utilising works of authors such as Pierre Bourdieu, Bruno Latour and Michael Foucault, the book combines real life organizational examples with highly speculative sociological theories producing a mix which is accessible and manageable.

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Preface ix

About the Authors xii

PART I An Introduction to MACS: Issues, Cases, and Perspectives 1

1 Issues: Why Management Accounting and Control Systems (MACS)? 3

1.1 Why are MACS so Important? 3

1.2 What are MACS? 5

1.3 The Structure of the Book 6

2 Cases: Building the Empirical Basis of the Book 9

2.1 Introduction 9

2.2 The Society of Jesus 10

2.3 Wedgwood Potteries 18

2.4 Empire Glass 22

2.5 Johnson & Johnson 28

2.6 Summary and Conclusions 34

3 Perspectives: A Toolbox to Understand MACS 37

3.1 Introduction 37

3.2 Believing in Reality: Positive Faith in Individuals, Needs, and Structures 41

3.3 Believing in Relations: Relativist Faith in Interactions, Actions, and Networks 46

3.4 Summary and Conclusions 52

PART II The Nature, Structures, and Modes of Operation of MACS 59

4 The Nature of MACS: Information, Power, and Control 61

4.1 Introduction 61

4.2 Dealing with Power and Control 76

4.3 Relating Theories to Empirical Observations 88

4.4. Summary and Conclusions 95

5 The Structures of MACS: Market, Hierarchies, and Systemic Controls 101

5.1 Introduction 101

5.2 Market versus Hierarchy? 102

5.3 The Metaphor of the System 106

5.4 Relating Theories to Empirical Observations 114

5.5 Summary and Conclusions 126

6 The Structure and Strategy of MACS 129

6.1 Introduction 129

6.2 Strategy and Strategic Planning 130

6.3 Strategy and the Structure of MACS 138

6.4 Product Life Cycle, Strategy, and Controls 151

6.5 Strategy as Ideological Control 153

6.6 Summary and Conclusions 156

7 MACS: Modes of Operation 159

7.1 Introduction 159

7.2 Closed-Rational versus Open-Natural Systems 160

7.3 Typologies of Controls: Uncertainty, Means, and Ends 162

7.4 Styles of Controls 167

7.5 The Teleologies of MACS: From Ideals to Practice 177

7.6 Control as Camoufl age 182

7.7. Relating Models to Empirical Observations 188

7.8 Summary and Conclusions 200

PART III MACS in Action: Issues of Change and Information Technology 205

8 MACS and Change 207

8.1 Introduction 207

8.2 What is Change? A Commonsensical Defi nition 209

8.3 Perspectives on MACS Change: The Power of Individuals and Institutions 210

8.4 A Structuration Perspective: Change as Interplay between Structures and Actions 215

8.5 A Relational Perspective on Change: Insights from the Think Pink Case 238

8.6 A-centered Organizations and the Power of Relations 252

8.7 Summary and Conclusions 254

9 MACS and Information Technology 259

9.1 Introduction 259

9.2 MACS and the Distance Making Controllers and Controlled 260

9.3 MACS, IT, and Minimalist Controls: Further Insights from the Think Pink Case 266

9.4 Summary and Conclusions 274

PART IV MACS as Practices: Issues of Accountability, Governance, and Ethics 277

10 Making Sense of MACS Practices 279

10.1 Introduction 279

10.2 MACS, Governable Persons, and Power-Knowledge Relationships 282

10.3 The Logic of MACS Practice 289

10.4 Praising Numbers as Sacred Figures: MACS Training Regimes 299

10.5 Summary and Conclusions 307

11 MACS, Accountability, and Governance 311

11.1 Introduction 311

11.2 Governance, Accountability, and Trust: From Societies to ""Socie-ties"" 313

11.3 A Tale of Two Scandals: The Failure of Internal, Institutional, and Social Controls 315

11.4 In Praise of Doubt: From the Tyranny of Transparency to a Search for Ethical Knowledge in Accounting, Accountability, and Governance 328

11.5 Summary and Conclusions 333

Further Readings 335

References 337

Index 357

  • Includes a new chapter on MACS in networks and inter-organisational relationships.
  • Case studies have been adapted and a new case on the Jesuits has been added.
  • Adds new theoretical perspectives in order to make the text more in tune with current practices, teaching needs and academic developments.
  • Expansion of the perspectives from which MACS can be seen and developed
  • New material is provided dealing with MACS role in relation to issues of governance and how recent scandals, such as Parmalat and Enron, can be seen as failures in terms of internal control.


  • Takes an organisational sociology approach to the study of management accounting and control systems (MACS), which provides the student with an appreciation that they need to consider more than the conventional legal and economic perspectives.
  • Outlines nearly twenty frameworks for investigating and understanding MACS.
  • Includes four case studies that represent a well thought out and effective control system both in how it is designed and how it works.