Structure and Agency in Management Accounting Research: a response to Boland's interpretive act

R W. Scapens, Norman Macintosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In his paper, “Accounting and the Interpretive Act”, Boland [Accounting, Organizations and Society (1993), pp. 1–24] argues that our paper Macintosh & Scapens [Accounting, Organizations and Society (1990), pp. 455–477] which used structuration theory as a framework for management accounting research is a structuralist analysis which merely views structuration at a distance and ignores the role of the human agent in the creation of meaning. In this paper we clarify our position and deal with Boland's specific criticisms of our discussion. After noting some inconsistencies in Boland's own position, we discuss the need for methodological brackets in operationalizing structuration theory. Giddens offers a bilateral set of brackets and distinguishes between institutional analysis and the analysis of strategic conduct. We draw on Giddens' distinction between institutional analysis and the analysis of strategic conduct to argue that both Boland's and our viewpoints can be accommodated within structuration theory. We then suggest that this accommodation has implications for some of the wider debates which have taken place between accounting researchers who use different social theories in their studies of accounting practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-690
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
Volume21
Issue number7-8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1996

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