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Journal cover: Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change

ISSN: 1832-5912

Online from: 2005

Subject Area: Accounting and Finance

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Strategic management accounting and business strategy: a loose coupling?

Document Information:
Title:Strategic management accounting and business strategy: a loose coupling?
Author(s):Lino Cinquini, (Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa, Pisa, Italy), Andrea Tenucci, (Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa, Pisa, Italy)
Citation:Lino Cinquini, Andrea Tenucci, (2010) "Strategic management accounting and business strategy: a loose coupling?", Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, Vol. 6 Iss: 2, pp.228 - 259
Keywords:Accounting, Corporate strategy, Italy, Strategic management
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/18325911011048772 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The authors are grateful to Falconer Mitchell, Hanne Nørreklit and Frank Selto for their valuable comments and suggestions. Thank are also due to the participants at meetings when early versions of this paper were presented – namely IGO Workshop, Siena, July 2006; 5th Conference on New Directions in Management Accounting: Innovations in Practice and Research, Brussels, December 2006; Manufacturing Accounting Research Conference, Trento, June 2007.

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether business strategy influences strategic management accounting (SMA) usage. Business strategy has been operationalized through strategic pattern, mission and positioning.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on an internet questionnaire survey of Italian companies. Multiple regression analysis is used to test the impact of strategic variables (pattern, mission and positioning) on SMA usage. Company size is included as control variable.

Findings – Several SMA techniques appear to be used in Italian companies as they are in other countries investigated in different studies. Customer accounting, competitive position monitoring, competitor performance appraisal based on published financial statement and quality costing represent the most widely used SMA techniques in the Italian sample. From the regression analysis, both defender- and cost leader-type of strategy are found to be more willing to use SMA techniques addressing cost information.

Research limitations/implications – The issue, common in contingent research, of business strategy definition and operationalization constitutes the main limitation of the paper; in an attempt to restrict its effect, it uses three strategic typologies (pattern, mission and positioning) and employs a measurement method used in previous studies. A second issue concerns the definition of SMA techniques. There is no concurred list of SMA techniques in the literature and further discussion is expected in the future.

Originality/value – First, empirical evidence is provided to a field (SMA) where empirical research is needed in order to be comparable with traditional management accounting techniques. Second, for the first time in SMA studies, a framework is employed that considers all of the three main strategic variables (pattern, mission and positioning) used in management accounting literature. As a result, the loose coupling between SMA techniques and business strategy typologies indicates (with the possible exception of cost-related SMA techniques) that the same SMA technique can support different strategic approaches of the company.

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