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Researching Public Sector Transformation: The Role of Management Accounting


G.J. van Helden, PO Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, the Netherlands.


This paper examines the role of management accounting in public sector transformation, as evidenced in publications in international accounting journals during the years 1999, 2000 and 2001. This research is predominantly directed to the way in which technical management accounting innovations are used, including the organisational and contextual factors that might influence the use of these new techniques. Qualitatively oriented case and field studies are the dominant research methods, and the research is inspired by various theoretical viewpoints, e.g. economics, organisation theory, neo-institutional sociology and other theories, such as critical theory. NPM theory turns out to be highly influential. Moreover, this paper points to the absence of specific public sector theories, and it also highlights the mainly academic stance of many researchers, which reveals a rather distant position from practice. The paper recommends researchers to conduct more impact studies on NMP in the future, to which the use of quantitative research methods will be highly valuable.