Paper Review

Paper Review
Article Title: Commonsense and practice variation in management control: a joint regulation
Authors: Yann QUEMENER and Ines CRUZ
Section I – Presentation of the paper
This paper is an innovative case study, building on the commonsensical practice (CP) and social
regulation theories (CRT). After setting the theoretical framework and explaining the interest of
the paper for research on accounting change, the authors introduce the case study, based on a
French agro-food company.
The case is presented and interpreted in the light of CP and SRT theories, within a joint grid of
interpretation. Further developments are suggested, in the sense of integrating common sense
as an important factor of accounting practice variation.
Section II – Comments and suggestions
A - Interest of the research
The authors identify a knowledge gap, and answer to a call for more research on change in
accounting practices. This perspective is legitimate, and Chapman et al. (2009) reiterate this
need in their paper on studying accounting in action, in the continuity of Hopwood’s call (1983)
to study management accounting in its organizational context.
B – Theoretical framework and literature review
The research is properly grounded in the literature. The two main theoretical sources are the
commonsensical1 practice theory and the social regulation theory.
In addition, it might be interesting to refer to the literature on management accounting systems
from an IS perspective (and specifically ERP implementation) - often contingency models based
on concepts like readiness or resistance to change. By referring to this literature you will be
able to better assess the multiple contributions of this case study to a broader literature.
In this respect, you might find useful the paper of Wagner and Newell2 (2004) on the tension
between ‘best practice’ ERP packages and diverse epistemic cultures in a university context.
On the philosophical concept of “common sense” : Thomas Reid – An inquiry into the Human Mind, On the principles
of common sense; Also an interesting essay by Gregory, J., Philosophy and Common Sense, The Philosophical Review,
Vol. 29, No. 6 (1920), 530-546;
C - Methodology
Methodology is clearly stated and consistent with the research questions and design. The
framework is rigorously applied in the interpretation of the case.
A case study strategy is applied, and there is need to better understand the choice of this
particular case. It is stated that the corporate management level makes the case interesting to
be studied; I strongly agree with that, however further development of this argument is
needed. The context of the integration of new companies in the group is very significant, from a
power relationship point of view; therefore it might be analyzed as a separate occurrence.
Also, I would need to better understand the organizational context, and have more details on
the group (without risking revealing its identity, for confidentiality concerns). An organization
chart would also help me better understand the hierarchy and formal relationships in the group.
It would also help in getting an accurate idea of the sample of experts interviewed in the case.
The link to strategy might also bring further clarifications, so it might be useful to explain the
“more comprehensive development plan of the group”, beyond the six objectives that are
quoted in relation with the GIGA project.
It might also be useful to explain how the topics have been chosen and explain the link with the
objectives of the research: The strategy of the BU and its relationship with the environment;
The management control system of each BU; The issues related to the design and use of GIGA;
Discussions group Management – users; Claims for changes in GIGA.
D - General comments on form and style
The paper is very intelligible and agreeable to read. I have followed the case and its
interpretation with much interest, from both an educational and research point of view.
However, there is still place for improvement – unfinished sentence at page 4, or the last
sentence of the paper, etc.
E – Contribution and discussion
The authors cover reasonably all the elements promised in the introduction. The research
clearly brings a contribution to understanding practice variation in management control, based
on the concept of common sense, combined with social regulation theory.
Wagner, E. and Newell, S. ‘Best’ for whom?: the tension between ‘best practice’ ERP packages and diverse
epistemic cultures in a university context, The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 13 (2004) 305-328,
see also Jones, M.C. at al., Exploring knowledge sharing in ERP implementation: an organizational culture
framework, Decision Support Systems 41 (2006) 411 – 434 and Soh, C. & Sia, S. K., An institutional
perspective on sources of ERP package–organisation misalignments, Journal of Strategic Information Systems
13 (2004) 375–397; There is also an extensive literature on the use of spreadsheets in parallel with systems
implemented centrally.