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Management accounting has been the subject of criticism lately especially for its failure to deliver decision relevant information to managers.. Implicated in this failure are not only practicing accountants but also academic accountants who are seen as being isolated from practice. This aspect is especially significant to their roles as researchers. A common theme in all these alleged shortcomings is the neglect of strategic considerations. This paper evaluates these claims using a framework suggested by Sterling (1973).
The analysis suggests that if strategy is understood in terms of the prevailing key issues at the time then management accounting has over the years addressed the relevant contemporary strategic issues. But this relevance has diminished over time. Furthermore, a widening schism between academic researchers and practitioners has coincided with this diminished relevance. The schism has arisen out of lack of communication and has contributed to the absence of any mutual reinforcement in the practice, research, and educational agendas in management accounting. The approach recommended here concurs with Sterling's (1973) advice to teach research results but we go further in suggesting that it is not just the research that needs teaching but the uncertainty breaking, problem solving strategies inherent in research procedures that also need teaching. These processes are likely to be most effective in the classroom when coupled with relevant content and this should be identified from the concerns of practicing management accountants.