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Application of contingency frameworks to management accounting research comenced in the mid 1970s and dominated organizational level research throughout the 1980s. Despite this popularity there have been persistent criticisms directed at issues of theory and method. This paper reviews developments in contingency style research over the past decade and attempts to provide support for an emergent contingency framework for the design of management accounting systems (MAS). This framework includes characteristics of MAS and organizational effectiveness, and the contextual variables of external environment, technology, organizational structure, size, strategy, and organizational culture. Evidence on the effect of these variables acting singly and in combination is examined. The paper discusses concerns with theory development and evaluates the methods that have been applied within empirical studies. Directions for future developments in theory construction and empirical investigation are suggested.