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Management accounting tools as mediators of a new organisational construction: A study of the interaction between tools and “physician-managers” in a French public hospital
Flachère, I., in DAVILA, A., EPSTEIN, M., & MANZONI, JF. (eds), Performance Measurement and Management Control: Behavioral Implications and Actions, Emerald Group Publishing Ltd (forthcoming)

Abstract

Purpose

We utilise the actor-network theory (ANT) - based especially on Latour (2005) - to examine how management accounting tools affect physicians' representations and new managerial practices in French public hospitals currently undergoing reform.

Design / Methodology / Approach

We conducted a longitudinal case study - based on interviews and observations - in a large French public hospital in which dashboards are diffused to physicians and nurses dealing with both medical and managerial activities.

Findings

The case shows that head physicians and nurses are implicated in their new managerial tasks and spend time analysing dashboards. Management accounting tools thus play a role, as mediators, in organising new managerial practices, and dashboards are a means of materialising and giving structure to new managerial practices and enabling discussions and exchanges to take place between actors who were previously separated.

Research implications

The case shows that management accounting tools are not necessarily useful because they help in decision-making or control - as in the dominant paradigm; rather, they are beneficial because they may help in changing representations and building a new collective organisation. Future research should therefore expand on the organisational and social roles of management accounting tools, especially in the healthcare field.

Originality / Value

Most ANT-inspired studies in management accounting focus on explaining changes in accounting practices, which are perceived as a consequence of an ANT process. This paper, however, analyses the practices by which management accounting tools act as a vehicle to organisational change.

Keywords

Management accounting tools, physician-managers, managerial practices, representations, organisational change, hospital

Paper type

Research paper

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