The structuration of legitimate performance measures and management: Day-to-day contests of accountability in a U.K. restaurant chain

Thomas Ahrens*, Chris Chapman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper reports on a longitudinal field study of accounting systems and their relationship to accountability in a U.K. restaurant chain. It is based on interviews and observations involving restaurant managers, the operations management hierarchy, and head office managers. In contrast to earlier studies of accounting and accountability this paper presents evidence to suggest that local managers' uses of central performance reports may serve to disseminate head office's strategic vision to operating units. It also suggests that the contests of accountability around performance measurement systems that have previously been reported in connection with major organizational transformations are a feature of everyday organizational management. With reference to structuration theory three modalities of such contests of accountability (signification, legitimation, domination) are distinguished and some of their interrelationships explained. Within an overall frame of strict hierarchical relationships, restaurant chain management exhibited considerable diversity with respect to the uses of performance measures, reflecting diverse local and central factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-171
Number of pages21
JournalManagement Accounting Research
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2002

Keywords

  • Accountability
  • Case study
  • Performance measurement
  • Restaurant chain
  • Structuration theory

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