Overview of Burns and Scapens' Framework for Analyzing Managerial Accounting Change

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The Burns and Scapens framework for analyzing managerial accounting change was built on the study of old institutional economics, which sees "economics as a process of social provision, subject to multiple and cumulative causation." This view culminates in a model that argues that the managerial accounting practices at institutions are subject to a process of constant change, influenced by routines and rules. The institutions contribute to these routines and rules, but so do actions on the part of managers within the institutions. By combining multiple influences over time, we arrive at modern managerial accounting practice. In other words, Burns and Scapens tells us that managerial accounting practice changes over time, influenced by a number of factors including rules, routines and actions. The model itself not compelling in its visual format - tells us nothing we could not have figured out in five minutes ourselves, but thankfully Scapens describes some of the elements that have been built into the model. The first element is routinisation and institutionalisation, where some institutionalised routines will over time become disassociated from the circumstances that gave rise to them. In this process, managerial accounting change might occur as the result of a specific set of circumstances, but once techniques or models become habit, those habits remain even if the circumstances that gave rise to them change significantly. This is a form of inertia that can be important

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