The Management Accounting Needs of Small Enterprises And the Role of Small Accounting Practices.

Tripathi, Vandana M. (2017). The Management Accounting Needs of Small Enterprises And the Role of Small Accounting Practices. PhD thesis The Open University.



Management accounting research has previously focused mostly on large firms rather than SMEs despite the significance of SMEs in the UK economy. The high failure rate of small enterprises in the UK points to the need to increase their financial robustness. Small accounting practices (SAPs) would seem to provide a possible alternative source of management accounting information for businesses too small to afford in-house accountants, but the literature over thirty years suggests that this approach has not been adopted. The sparse research in this area has proposed disparate reasons for the limited use of SAPs, without providing a definitive explanation. The intractability of the barriers to the use of SAPs for the provision of management accounting information points to a mismatch between management accounting theory, which tends to be based on neo-classical economics, and the approach used in practice in small firms and SAPs.

The research investigates these barriers, assessing the extent to which owner-managers carry out management accounting in small enterprises despite the opportunity costs involved and explores the reasons behind their tendency not to seek management accounting services from SAPs. It also evaluates the potential of SAPs to provide management accounting services and the reasons limiting their promotion. The research draws on a critical realist perspective using qualitative, multiple case studies involving semi-structured interviews to examine the degree to which neo-classical economic theory,old institutional economics and new institutional sociology can explain how the barriers have arisen and why they have remained. The findings expand existing research on management accounting by bringing into focus the interaction between actors and their structural context in small firms and SAPs, demonstrating how that shapes management accounting practices, particularly with regard to the barriers to the greater use of SAPs.

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