Generic Strategy and Strategic Management Accounting Practices: Case Study of a Sri Lankan Telecommunications Company

H Rathwatta, D. N. Samudrage

Abstract


Organizations depend on different generic strategies to gain competitive advantage (Porter, 1980). Usage of a particular generic strategy is always associated with a set of rules, practices, and procedures within an organization. Amongst them, Strategic Management Accounting (SMA) practices play a vital role in supporting and monitoring the performance of the generic strategy pursued by an organization.However, organizations may change the generic strategies they use over the time due to various changes taking place in the environment including the changes in business environment,technology, competitors, regulation and the global economy (Wickramasinghe & Alawattage, 2007).A change in the strategy is expected to lead to changes in existing policies and practices to match the new strategy (Langfield – Smith, 2007).Thus SMA practices used by the organization should be no exception. Such changes in practices are important for effective implementation of the new strategy. Otherwise, the new strategy is expected to fail. However, studies, which examine the changes in generic strategy and associated changes in SMA practices are scarce in the Sri Lankan context. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to examine whether the change in generic strategy leads to changes in SMA practices used in Alpha Telecom PLC, which is a leading telecommunications company in Sri Lanka. Also, the study expects to recognize other factors contributing to the changes in SMA practices in this company.

This study adopted the qualitative research methodology and used the single case study method to conduct an in depth analysis of SMA practices of Alpha Telecom. The data were collected through semi- structured interviews with senior managers and a questionnaire was distributed among middle level executives. Management Accounting (MA) reports and annual reports of the company were used as secondary sources. The study has used new institutional theory as the theoretical lens. The study found that when generic strategy moved from cost leadership to differentiation, the traditional MA practices based on costing shifted to SMA practices such as Balanced scorecard (BSC), Competitor analysis, Quality costing etc. Further, it was found that changes in ownership, culture of parent company, and nature of competition also had an impact towards the usage of new SMA practices within the company. Coercive and mimetic pressures affected for the usage of SMA at Alpha PLC.


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Vidyodaya Journal of Management, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka