Management and accounting innovations: reflecting on what they are and why they are adopted

Cristiano Busco, Ariela Caglio, Robert Scapens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on a brief review of the studies that have explored the reasons underpinning the adoption of management and accounting innovations, this paper aims to highlight the potentials of an interpretation recently offered by the literature. A number of studies have focused on the role of economic and functional variables in explaining the adoption of management and accounting innovations. These variables range, for example, from an increase in efficiency and profitability to the greater aid to decision making with which these innovations provide economic agents. Other perspectives have highlighted the role played by external pressures, fads, and fashions, focusing thus on the role of institutional variables. Our paper contributes to this debate by focusing neither on the adopters nor on contextual variables. Rather, by acknowledging how decisions for adoption are nested within a network of relationships and cannot thus be limited to one set of explanatory variables only, our contribution leverages a recent interpretation that focuses on the features of a key element in this networks, i.e. the management and accounting innovation itself. More specifically, drawing on the insights from two illustrative cases related to the adoption of Six-Sigma within General Electric Oil&Gas, and on the development of an end-to-end budget within Nestlé waters, we rely on the interpretative framework developed by Busco and Quattrone (Contemp Account Res, 2014) to illustrate how the adoption of management and accounting innovation is facilitated by its ability to create a space where complex issues are translated into clear visual representations, order and knowledge can be classified and innovated, different interests can be accommodated through a constant process of interrogation and re-invention, and engagement can be sustained through participation in a series of recurrent activities. Finally, we introduce the five papers which comprise this Special Issue, and we briefly illustrate how each of them enhances our understanding of what management and accounting innovations are, and where they came from.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-524
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Management and Governance
Issue number3
Early online date11 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


  • Innovation
  • Management accounting
  • Adoption
  • Case studies


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