Watts, T. and McNair, C. J., Linking Theory and Praxis through Concepts Theories: Providing a conceptual face for the strategic balanced scorecard, School of Accounting & Finance, University of Wollongong, Working Paper 10, 2006.
Over the past few years, criticisms, that many of the management accounting techniques of the last decade lack integrated theories that provide a deeper explanation of the technical phenomena constructed, have been levelled by management accounting researchers. The implications of the conclusions drawn by Ittner and Larcker (2001) and Zimmerman (2001), that research relating to practitioner-oriented techniques has neglected the broader theoretical context, is challenged by reference to existing theoretical concepts that provide this underpinning and through this a more complete understanding of the technique. One recent technique developed has been Kaplan and Norton’s strategic balanced scorecard, to which this paper relates the theoretical concepts of cybernetics, specifically the work of Maruyama. Three fundamental characteristics of cybernetics theory are identified; causal relationships, communication and change. These are compared to the practical formulation of the strategic balanced scorecard. It is argued that these characteristics are common in the theory and in the practice and fit the contemporary description of theory as they explain and predict the reality of the strategic balanced scorecard, create meaning, are well constructed, and link the subjective and objective realms of experience.