Perspectives on multiple stakeholders and management control systems. Institutional and stakeholder theory: Friend or foe?

European Accounting Association (EAA)
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
31st Annual Congress European Accounting Association Conference Website Papers, 2008, pp. 1 - 20
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Organisations are increasingly being pressured by stakeholders to acknowledge and manage their interests (Phillips 2003; Freeman 1984). However, conflicts can arise where multiple stakeholders have differing interests, especially if certain stakeholder groups are prioritised above others when decisions are made about the allocation of scarce resources. The management accounting literature is limited in explicitly dealing with how multiple stakeholder objectives manifest in the management control systems of organisations. This paper discusses the conceptual overlaps and tensions between intuitional theory and stakeholder theory in an attempt to provide greater depth of analysis on how multiple and potentially conflicting stakeholder objectives manifest in management control systems. The paper is a conceptual. It first problematises the issues of multiple stakeholder objectives with management control system design and use. The paper then reviews three management accounting papers (Abernathy and Chua, 1996; Brignall and Modell, 2000; Mueller and Carter, 2007) which have adopted institutional perspectives for this analysis to highlight the limitations of institutional theory. Finally, the paper reconciles several terms used by the respective theories and develops a framework for management accounting researchers to draw from both institutional and stakeholder theories simultaneously to better inform future research design and findings. The framework draws heavily on the model of stakeholder identification and salience developed by Mitchell et al. (1997) and tested by Agle et al. (1999) to connect stakeholder characteristics to the design and use of management control systems.
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