University of Sussex
hasmgtacbeencriticalfinalversionsubmittedjuly2015.pdf (1.09 MB)

Has management accounting research been critical?

Download (1.09 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-08, 22:51 authored by Trevor Hopper, Binh Bui
This paper examines the contributions Management Accounting Research (MAR) has (and has not) made to social and critical analyses of management accounting in the twenty-five years since its launch. It commences with a personalised account of the first named author’s experiences of behavioural, social and critical accounting in the twenty-five years before MAR appeared. This covers events in the UK, especially the Management Control Workshop, Management Accounting Research conferences at Aston, the Inter-disciplinary Perspectives on Accounting Conferences; key departments and professors; and elsewhere the formation of pan-European networks, and reflections on a years’ visit to the USA. Papers published by MAR are analysed according to year of publication, country of author and research site, research method, research subject (type of organization or subject studied), data analysis method, topic, and theory. This revealed, after initial domination by UK academics, increasing Continental European influence; increasing use of qualitative methods over a wide range of topics, especially new costing methods, control system design, change and implementation, public sector transformation, and more recently risk management and creativity. Theoretical approaches have been diverse, often multi-disciplinary, and have employed surprisingly few economic theories relative to behavioural and social theories. The research spans mainly large public and private sector organisations especially in Europe. Seven themes perceived as of interest to a social and critical theory analysis are evaluated, namely: the search for ‘Relevance Lost’ and new costing; management control, the environment and the search for ‘fits’; reconstituting the public sector; change and institutional theory; post-structural, constructivist and critical contributions; social and environmental accounting; and the changing geography of time and space between European and American research. The paper concludes by assessing the contributions of MAR against the aspirations of groups identified in the opening personal historiography, which have been largely met. MAR has made substantial contributions to social and critical accounting (broadly defined) but not in critical areas endeavouring to give greater voice and influence to marginalised sectors of society worldwide. Third Sector organisations, politics, civil society involvement, development and developing countries, labour, the public interest, political economy, and until recently social and environmental accounting have been neglected.


Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Accepted version


Management Accounting Research







Page range


Department affiliated with

  • Business and Management Publications

Full text available

  • Yes

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


First Open Access (FOA) Date


First Compliant Deposit (FCD) Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager