The performativity of a management accounting and control system: Exploring the dynamic relational consequences of a design. By: van Erp, Wil; Roozen, Frans; Vosselman, Ed. Scandinavian Journal of Management. Dec2019, Vol. 35 Issue 4, pN.PAG-N.PAG. 1p.

  • The introduction of MAC in the organization proves to initiate a process in which MAC turns from a system into an actor-network.
  • This actor-network interactively generates unanticipated effects and shapes the network in unexpected ways.
  • MAC is grounded in relations and performatively develops. It is an actor in the network, rather than an instrument outside the network.
  • Multiple network relations emerge and MAC comes to be a different thing in different situations. As such, it becomes multiple.
  • Managing such enactment requires both managers and controllers to get involved in the performative processes of network building.

This paper contributes to the knowledge of the performativity of accounting by exploring the unexpected consequences of a management accounting and control system (MAC) as designed in a large public organization. In an organization in the Dutch sector of Nursing Homes, Homes for the Elderly and Homecare MAC turns from a system into an actor-network. Rather than being a stable answer machine in the context of decision making or a ready-made tool for performance management by which distant (top) managers and controllers aim to measure and manage performance from time-space distances, MAC is grounded in relations and performatively develops. As such, it becomes multiple. The study shows how the performativity of MAC goes beyond its functionality. Though originating from MAC’s functional design, MAC’s performativity is not simply about the degree to which it realizes the intentions of its designers, but is about its dynamic relational consequences. Controllers should mediate in the dynamics of MAC so that processes of learning are enhanced and the quality and efficiency of the care practices develop.