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Title: A study of management accounting and control in governing the state : some lessons from a local government waste management service
Author: Ferry, Laurence
ISNI:       0000 0004 2724 2392
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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Political priorities are represented through accounting, which makes it fundamental to governing Whitehall and Town Hall relationships (Wildavsky 1964, 1975; Hopwood 1984; Hood 1995, 2010). Public sector research showed accounting has been colonising through coercive institutional processes that can lead to dysfunctional performance (Broadbent and Laughlin 1997). In contrast private sector accounting literature suggested both coercive and enabling bureaucracies (Adler and Borys 1996) can be formalised as management control systems (Ahrens and Chapman 2004) to balance efficiency and flexibility for better performance (Brown and Eisenhardt 1997). The research question looks to explain how coercive and enabling control can work in a specific Town Hall waste management service, and organisation changes occur between them to manage Whitehall strategic ambitions. A nested research design methodology was employed to undertake a historical study of archaeologies and genealogies of accounting for policies and strategies (Hopwood 1987; Foucault 1972, 1977), which were linked to a case study of sites and practices (Schatzki 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005; Ahrens and Chapman 2005, 2007). Methods included archival research, interviews and observation, with data triangulated to support claims. It was found that phases of archaeologies were layered representing policies, strategies and practices, but with related genealogies of change. The genealogies illustrate coercive control could be enabling in the public sector, but with changing contexts this can shift from being empowering to constraining and even dysfunctional to performance. In addition, coercive control could be enabling through system design, system features and implementation context, but changes to the strategic context rather than just the structural context have to occur for enabling control to take on more ensuring notions. Furthermore, the use of system features (Ahrens and Chapman 2004) and processes (Wouters and Wilderom (2008)) are important for coercive procedures to be enabling, but so were practices and the situated functionality of accounting for establishing order, setting and developing current and future agendas, and accomplishing priorities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HG Finance