The Influence of Institutions, Agency and Power on A Change of Management Accounting Practice (The Balanced Scorecard)
: The Case of A Saudi Organisation

  • Mohammed Bu Haya

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The debate over the changing nature of management accounting has become a critical topic in recent years. Due to a changing business environment (i.e. increased competition and uncertainty), adopting advanced management accounting practices has become essential for many organisations in order to provide better information for decision makers, allowing them to make informed decisions. Increasingly prominent among these is the management accounting practice known as the balanced scorecard.

    However, comparatively little research attention has been paid to understanding how the process of management accounting practice change has emerged (or failed to emerge) through time, especially in developing countries. This study investigates the decision to introduce the balanced scorecard in a Saudi telecoms company, as well as the implementation process and the outcomes of its introduction, with particular regard for the impacts of agency and institutions, both endogenous and exogenous.

    The study involves a longitudinal case study of a company combined with an interpretive approach to allow for sufficient depth in the investigation. Following a processual/contextualist view of change, a recently developed meta-theoretical institutionalist framework, the extension of the Burns and Scapens framework (2018), was applied to provide rich understandings and a clear explanation of a change of management accounting practice in a Saudi organisational setting. Qualitative data from face-to-face interviews was combined with documentation and observations.

    This thesis analyses the situated nature of management accounting change in a developing country, Saudi Arabia. Empirical findings drawn from the telecoms company indicate that the dynamics of change in the company are influenced by the inter-connection of external and internal institutions in specific situations, encompassing issues of power, politics and culture. Selecting accounting practices is not only dependent on context; it also relies on the situated nature of accounting practices within the company. The adoption of the balanced scorecard was for instrumental purposes and led to revolutionary change. The institutionalisation of the balanced scorecard within the company implanted and strengthened the company’s culture.

    This study provides four main contributions to knowledge. Firstly, the study contributes to neo-institutional theory literature (i.e. Ter-Bogt and Scapens, 2018) by demonstrating how a multiplicity of institutions shape individual rationalities in a specific situation within a specific organisation, and how these institutions and norms of behaviour are used by individuals to develop the new system and to gain legitimacy for it. Secondly, the study not only supports the argument of Ter-Bogt and Scapens (2018) in general, but also refines it by illuminating the power of mobilisation used by powerful people in bringing about change. The study complements the recent interest in using neo-institutional theory to understand how agents are shaped by a multiplicity of institutions in contributing to institutional change. Thirdly, the study sheds new light on religion as one of the institutions at the societal level, and how the logic of this institution has the potential to influence management accounting change among actors even in a non-religious organisation. This thesis highlights how the traditions and values of the Saudi context can play a vital role in making the process of change smoother. Finally, the study contributes to the emerging literature on accounting practices and organisational culture. The study shows how implementing the balanced scorecard successfully influences staff ways of thinking and doing which enable the implanting of a new organisational culture.
    Date of AwardApr 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorAidan Berry (Supervisor), Paul Grant (Supervisor) & Catherine Matthews (Supervisor)


    • balanced scorecard
    • institutions
    • management accounting change
    • Saudi Arabia

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