Bob Scapens

Robert Scapens

Colleges, School and Institutes

External positions

Professor, Alliance Manchester Business School

Research interests


      The Changing Nature of Management Accounting and the Changing Role of the Management Accountant    

      This is a continuation of a CIMA funded project to improve our understanding of new management accounting innovations, fashions and fads, including the processes of evolution and diffusion. That project was undertaken with John Burns and Gudrun Baldvinsdottir (Gothenburg) and Hanne Nørreklit (Aarhus). Professor Scapens continuing part of the project is exploring the ways in which management accountants talk about their roles in organisations. It is based on my collection of tape recordings of interviews conducted in the 1980s, 1990s and the 2000s. He is using discourse analysis to study the ‘talk’ of contemporary management accountants and how this has changed over the past three decades.    

      Accounting for Lateral Relations    

      Much traditional management accounting has been concerned with providing information for hierarchical relations, but increasingly lateral relationships are becoming important both within and outside the boundaries of the firm. This project is looking at the theoretical underpinnings of accounting for lateral relations drawing on both old and new institutional economics, and the more recent work on trust. The research is being undertaken with Jeltje van der Meer-Kooistra (at the University of Groningen). Currently they are using our theoretical framework to study product development projects which involve multiple parties within and outside the boundaries of the firm.    

      Management Accounting Change    

      This has been the focus on Professor Scapens research over the past 20 years or more, and he is continuing to work in this area. The research draws on institutional theory to inform case studies which analyse the dynamics of accounting change. Much of his work has been concerned with large corporations, but he is currently also working on projects on small growing companies with colleagues at the University of Jyväskylä, in Finland, and on accounting and finance departments with Henk ter Bogt, from the University of Groningen, The Netherlands.    

      Designed to Happen: How management accountants can lead innovation through reinventing reporting    

      Through the design of management accounting techniques and reporting methods, management accountants have the potential to take a leadership role in fostering innovation and creativity within their organisation. They can encourage innovation and change to emerge from the discussions which takes place in the process of collecting, organising and communicating accounting data within and outside their organisations. Professor Scapens is undertaking this project with Paolo Quattrone and Cristiano Busco. It is funded by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and will develop a theoretical framework and case studies which will provide input to the redesign of CIMA's syllabus and courses to enhance the management accountants reporting design skills and enable them to become the orchestrators of innovation and change.