Popularizing a Management Accounting Idea: The Case of the Balanced Scorecard

42 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2016

See all articles by David J. Cooper

David J. Cooper

University of Alberta - Department of Accounting, Operations & Information Systems

Mahmoud Ezzamel

Cardiff Business School - Accounting and Finance Section

Sandy Qu

York University - Schulich School of Business

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 14, 2016

Abstract

We explore how the Balanced Scorecard (BSC), as a management accounting technique, was developed and marketed as a general management practice. Drawing on actor network theory (ANT), we analyse interviews with key actors associated with the BSC, insights gained from attending BSC training workshops, and other documentary evidence to construct a history of the BSC. Our historical analysis offers theoretical tools to understand how the various features of the accounting technique were translated and transformed, that is shaped and solidified. This translation entailed processes of modification, labelling, framing, and specification of abstract categories and cause-effect relations. We also examine the networks and associations that both shape the form of the BSC and mobilize the interests of various constituencies around it to produce what can be regarded as a global management technology. Finally, we highlight the strategies and actions used to maintain control of this technique through its continuous reinvention, and, by doing so, we emphasize the idea of strategic agency.

Keywords: Balanced scorecard, translation, obligatory passage point, strategic agency

JEL Classification: B25, M41

Suggested Citation

Cooper, David J. and Ezzamel, Mahmoud and Qu, Sandy Q., Popularizing a Management Accounting Idea: The Case of the Balanced Scorecard (April 14, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2765258 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2765258

David J. Cooper (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Department of Accounting, Operations & Information Systems ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada

Mahmoud Ezzamel

Cardiff Business School - Accounting and Finance Section ( email )

Colum Drive
Cardiff CF10 3EU
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 29 2087 4277 (Phone)
+44 (0) 29 2087 4419 (Fax)

Sandy Q. Qu

York University - Schulich School of Business ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

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