The paradox of strategic management accounting

Bill Nixon, J. Burns

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    78 Citations (Scopus)


    The evidence that strategic management accounting (SMA) techniques have not been adopted widely and that developments in the SMA literature seem to have languished may be consistent with the relatively short lifecycle of most strategic management (SM) tools and many concepts. Nevertheless, there is an inherent contradiction between the apparent decline of SMA and the sustained growth in the number of concepts, models, tools, theoretical perspectives, disciplines, academic and professional journals and consultancy practices that populate the SM domain. This paradox of SMA is explored in the context of the evolution of the SM literature, SMA practice, as exemplified by two recent case studies, and the cognate literatures of management control, performance measurement and knowledge management. It transpires that the SMA literature is based in large part on a narrow, first-era, view of the SM literature that reached maturity with Michael Porter's industry analysis model and generic competitive strategies. The second era of SM that began in 1977 with a move to a more internal, resource-based view of the firm and competitive advantage has been mostly neglected by the extant SMA literature. However, to judge from the small number of published case studies, SMA practices are developing in line with their strategy formulation and organisational processes. The links among the bundle of techniques that are usually included in SMA and between SMA and cognate literatures need to be integrated into a coherent, cohesive framework to complement SM.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)229-244
    Number of pages16
    JournalManagement Accounting Research
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


    • Strategic management accounting
    • Strategic management
    • new product design and development
    • Performance measurement
    • Knowledge management
    • management control
    • Resource-based view
    • Strategy-as-practice
    • Complementarities


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