A trail of unintended consequences: Management Accounting Information in a volatile environment

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: This paper highlights the unintended consequences that resulted from the (ab) use of management accounting information in a large automobile corporation in Zimbabwe.

    Methodology: The paper uses a case study and draws on Giddens’ structuration theory to help us understand how management accounting practices are produced and reproduced through interactions in organisations.

    Findings: It reveals how the use of management accounting information can lead to the domination of other employees in organisations and result in unintended consequences such as redundancies.

    Originality: The paper lays emphasis on the unintended consequences resulting from actions of different players in the motor industry and their impact on workers and wider society. It also brings to the fore the dialectic of control which allows subordinates to mobilise resources and act otherwise. It concludes that management accounting practices are ‘situated practices’ which reflect the dominant discourses and can be harnessed to liberate or enslave other players in organisations. The paper suggests that adopting structuration theory helps us analyse the role (s) of accounting information and illuminate possible unintended consequences associated with accounting based decisions.

    Practical implications: Accountants should guard against misuse of accounting information, to justify political decisions made by managers.

    Research limitations: The political and economic volatility of the environment obscured the interactions between engineers and accountants because the central focus shifted to survival beyond the crisis.

    Keywords: Structuration theory, dialectic of control, unintended consequences

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationResearch in Accounting in Emerging Economies
    EditorsMathew Tsamenyi, Shahzad Uddin
    PublisherEmerald Publishing Limited
    Number of pages28
    ISBN (Electronic)9780857244529
    ISBN (Print)9780857244512
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Publication series

    NameResearch in Accounting in Emerging Economies
    ISSN (Print)1479-3563


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