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Management Accounting Change in the French Public Sector: A New Institutionalist Perspective

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  1. New institutionalism, decoupling and NPM
    1. Decoupling in new institutionalist theory
    2. NPM and decoupling
  2. NPM at inf-rail: a new performance measurement and management system
    1. The case setting: an operating division in a public sector firm
    2. Operationalizing npm: the formal structure of the new performance system
  3. Analysis
    1. Competition
    2. Transparency and accountability
    3. Efficiency and cost reduction
  4. Discussion
    1. Decoupling and new institutionalist theory
    2. Collective decoupling and individual action
    3. Decoupling, resistance and power
    4. Decoupling, resistance and the balance of external and internal legitimacies
    5. Decoupling, coercive change and national context

In the public sector management accounting change is often associated with the implementation of New Public Management (NPM) principles. This article uses the new institutionalist perspective to analyze the implementation of a new performance measurement and management system in a large French public firm, thus contributing to documenting the implementation of NPM in France. We observed various forms of decoupling at the utilization stage of the system. Findings contribute to suggesting three steps in the adoption of managerial innovations (design, implementation, and utilisation) and validate prior research regarding the impact of power, actors' resistance and internal legitimacy concerns on decoupling. Keywords: New institutionalism, new public management, France, accounting change, decoupling, performance measurement systems

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