Diffusion of management accounting innovations: A virus perspective
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Accounting and Organizational Change. 2019, 15 (4), 513-534. 10.1108/JAOC-11-2018-0121
Purpose The diffusion of management accounting innovations (MAIs) is the focus of much debate in the management accounting research community. Extant contributions have drawn on a large of number of theories, including innovation diffusion theory and various sociologically inspired theories such as management fashion. The purpose of this paper is to examine and develop Røvik’s virus theory in the context of how MAIs diffuse. The paper further evaluates and elaborates on the potential usefulness of the virus perspective to empirical research on MAIs. Design/methodology/approach The paper uses a conceptual and explorative research approach. The paper introduces the virus perspective and compares this perspective with several other theoretical perspectives often used in studies of the diffusion of MAIs. This enables the identification of characteristics specific to the virus perspective. The paper also re-examines a number of prior studies of MAIs and identifies different virus characteristics implicit in these studies. Findings The findings of the paper imply that the virus perspective is a useful basis for empirical research on MAIs. The virus perspective differs from other theoretical perspectives in several respects and is particularly suited for longitudinal studies of both MAIs and organizational change. However, the perspective could be used at other levels of analysis as well. The extant studies reviewed in this paper provide support for the viral characteristics of MAIs. The paper also identifies and discusses avenues for future research using the virus perspective as a theoretical lens. Originality/value The virus perspective has been given little attention in research on MAIs, as well as more generally within accounting research. This research paper demonstrates that the virus perspective offers a rich and valuable conceptual framework for studying how demand-side organizations are affected by MAIs over extensive periods of time. The paper also discusses the implications of the virus perspective with respect to the research method.