Highly embedded agents driving institutional change: the role of management accounting practices
Sprache des Vortragstitels:
Annual Conference for Management Accounting Research (ACMAR)
Sprache des Tagungstitel:
In this paper, we address the paradox of embedded agency, that is, the question how agents who are influenced and constrained by the structures that surround them can nevertheless change these structures. Despite growing interest in the phenomenon in the management accounting literature in the past few years, existing research has mostly analyzed the role of less embedded agents. We argue that the core of the embedded agency paradox, however, rather applies to highly embedded agents. Consequently, in this paper, we address the question how highly embedded agents come to produce institutional change and what role management accounting practices play in this process. To analyze this question, we draw on a case study of an Austrian family firm and the role of two highly embedded family members trying to instill institutional change. Our evidence suggests that such highly embedded agents may need to reduce their embeddedness with some of the existing structures first, before they can draw on management accounting practices to drive change. Overall, our study suggests that future research on embedded agency may need to more closely consider changing levels of actor embeddedness as a further, but so far mostly neglected, source of embedded agency.