Responsibility accounting, managerial action and ‘a counter-ability’: Relating the physical and virtual spaces of decision-making

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This study examines how the economic structures of responsibility accounting (RA) affect decision-making and managerial action. It analyses how decision rights transform and affect managerial action and argue that functionalist approaches to organising a company through RA principles are inexpedient. The argument is based on two spaces related to decision-making and managerial action – physical space and virtual space – and addresses the managerial effects of RA with respect to these spaces. The RA literature argues that the design of RA should be based on its context and its structure should be stable. However, the study presented here shows how the effects of RA emerge in a process of development and transformation of the organisation. When an organisation and its management control system cannot embrace the dynamism of the physical space, the resulting managerial actions and decision-making are tumultuous; accountability in this context means possessing ‘a counter-ability’, not being ‘accountable’. Accounting forms a virtual organisational space, and the relationships between physical and virtual spaces co-construct the organisational effects of RA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101062
JournalScandinavian Journal of Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019



  • Accountability
  • Decision rights
  • Managerial action
  • Performance
  • Responsibility accounting
  • Virtual space

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