On the Boundaries between Intrafirm and Interfirm Management Accounting Research

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Over the past two decades, accounting researchers have shown significant interest in interfirm relationships; in particular in the implications for management accounting and control practices to manage these relationships. Analysis of the growing literature on interfirm management accounting suggests this is developing largely independently from the literature on accounting and control in intrafirm settings, with only limited recognition of potential interrelations. A key reason for this seems to relate to the different types of research questions and related levels of analysis that studies in these areas focus on. Particularly, while intrafirm studies focus primarily on questions related to units, people, practices and processes within organizations, interfirm studies focus predominantly on questions related to the management of collaboration with partner firms and of partner behavior. This paper reviews how intrafirm and interfirm management accounting research to date connect, and how they could connect better. The review identifies three areas of connection that are addressed to only a limited extent by prior research: (1) management accounting within interfirm relationships aimed at aligning the interests and actions of boundary spanners, (2) interrelations between intrafirm and interfirm management accounting, and (3) the use of intrafirm management control frameworks to analyze interfirm control. For each of these areas, the paper reviews insights obtained from prior studies and offers directions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-91
JournalManagement Accounting Research
Issue numberJune
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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