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Extending New Institutional Theory: Regulation and ActivityBased Costing in Portuguese Telecommunications*

Maria Major1, 2 and Trevor Hopper3

1 Departamento de Finanças e Contabilidade, ISCTE – Escola de Gestão, Av. das Forças Armadas, 1649-026 Lisboa, Portugal. 2 UNIDE Researcher. 3 Manchester School of Accounting and Finance, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK.

* The authors wish to thank Bob Scapens, Sven Modell, Salvador Carmona, Angelo Riccaboni, John Burns, Mahmoud Ezzamel, Caroline Lambert, Rui Vieira, Aldónio Ferreira, and other participants at the EAA Congress 2002 and IPA 2003 for comments on earlier versions of this paper, and Joao Ribeiro and Jodie Moll for their insights on institutional theory. Also, the authors are grateful to Marconi, and Maria João Mendes and Mário Lima for their support of this project. The first author is grateful to “Fundação Para a Ciência e Tecnologia” for financial support.

Extending New Institutional Theory: Regulation and ActivityBased Costing in Portuguese Telecommunications

This paper investigates why a Portuguese telecommunications firm adopted activity-based costing (ABC). Theoretically it draws from New Institutional Sociology. An intensive, holistic case study revealed that ABC was implemented to improve competitiveness and efficiency. However, it was also an isomorphic response to pressures from a chain of institutions, especially its parent company, management consultants, national and European Union regulatory agencies, financial markets, and consumer associations. This private, profit-seeking firm faced institutional and economic pressures simultaneously, consistent with developments in new institutional theory. However, the nature of efficiency, its economic expression, and the impact of regulatory pressures upon departments varied according to their tasks and domains.…...

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