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Title: Accounting control systems in de-integrated organisational forms : a case study
Author: Harrigan, Fiona
ISNI:       0000 0004 2681 5259
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2010
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This dissertation explores the issue of structural choice in organisations, and the role of accounting control systems in this decision is empirically examined. In particular, the thesis addresses" vertical de-integration" process and the role that accounting plays, if any, in that process and in making de-integrated forms operational. To study the research objectives of this dissertation, a case study approach was selected as the most suitable, as it allowed a deeper examination of the case and of the wide variety of environmental influences. The focus of the dissertation was a single design chain, consisting of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Group (BCAG) and the main suppliers to the group's 787 aircraft project. Documentation and interviews were chosen as the two primary methods of data collection. Interviewees were selected from Boeing, from the major suppliers to the 787 program and from aerospace industry experts. This dissertation argues that BCAG's motivations for choosing a de-integrated, collaborative structure and the configuration of accounting control practices used to operationalise this inter-firm network are best understood in an integrated transaction cost theory (TCT) and institutional framework, where economic factors prompt the search for change, while institutional factors influence the particular choice of production mode and the practices that support it. There are a number of findings revealed by the dissertation. From a TCT perspective, the case demonstrated that Boeing undertook a tacit comparison of production costs and transaction costs, but chose to vertically de-integrate in spite of the presence of specific assets. It is proposed that information systems reduced coordination transaction costs, while the network structure minimised the threat of opportunism, thus influencing the transaction/production cost comparison. While pressures for change were mainly economic, Boeing emulated "best practice" when attempting to realise this change, consistent with the institutional concepts of mimetic and normative isomorphism. However, in terms of explaining the design of the 787 accounting control systems, there was no evidence of isomorphism. The control system had evolved in a way that was specific to Boeing and its partners. Institutional theory is less useful, in this case, for explaining the adoption of control practices than it is in explaining the adoption of a particular organisational structure. Instead, the intersection of accounting, design and information technology practices on the project demonstrates a hybridisation of accounting practices with other disciplines, which emerged and was refined over a long period, primarily from technical need but also driven by Boeing's comparatively powerful status in the field. Implications for future research are presented in the concluding section.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available