Exploring Management Accounting Change in ERP Context
Acta Universitatis Tamperensis No. 1506


By Timo Hyvönen
June 2010
Tampere University Press
Distributed By Coronet Books
ISBN: 9789514480232
125 pages
$77.50 Paper original

The overall purpose of this dissertation is to study the role of ICT in the controlling process of organizations, and specifically how financial management as an active agency is able to mobilise resources, control decision-making and manage meanings within the ERP implementation process. Thus, the purpose here is to shed light from four different perspectives on management accounting change in the ERP systems context: (i) management accounting as a technology, (ii) management accounting as knowledge, (iii) management accounting as a control structure, and (iv) management accounting as a profession. However, unlike in earlier studies, the focus here is on the implementation phase, not on the impacts of ERP systems on management accounting. The dissertation consists of an introductory chapter and four published papers.

In this dissertation, the direction is from a preliminary and explorative survey to detailed and in-depth case studies. The survey used in the first paper not only indicated that the phenomenon is popular and interesting, but also showed how difficult, even impossible, it is, using the survey method, to capture a continuously changing target such as an information system, which is not only a stable system but also a dynamic and unstable process. Therefore, the last three papers were carried out as a case study in one company. In these papers, analyses on three levels were used: the institutional, organizational and individual levels. The institutional level means changes on the social and political level, i.e. EU integration and competition legislation. On the organizational level the focus is on the changes in organizational structures and processes, and on the individual level on single actors.

As a conclusion, the dissertation replies to the question of how it is possible, using a company-wide integrated information system (ERP), to mobilize local management accounting knowledge to dis-embed it from the local level to headquarters, and then globalize it by re-embedding the knowledge on all sites. Besides this, the dissertation also offers a rich description of the series of events in which the actor responsible for the project, is in a situation to establish different social networks, and, over and over again, to sell the whole idea of the project to different actors by using suitable metaphors for the situation. In contrast to some other management accounting studies, this dissertation suggests that instead of a panopticon, the centre of calculation created by ERP systems may be more like an oligopticon. The nature of the oligopticon, however, includes a propensity for errors, as its functioning depends on the existence of many accounting information system agencies and the connections between them. As a final contribution, this dissertation explains how technology by its definition and implementation can help an accountant in his/her personal career.

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