An investigation of management accounting control systems in the palm oil industry
: a sociomaterial approach to practice change

  • Fazlin Ali

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The primary aim of this research is to understand what constitutes management accounting and control (MACs) practice and how these control processes are implicated in the day to day work practices and operations of the organisation. It also examines the changes that happen in MACs practices over time as multiple actors within organisational settings interact with each other. I adopt a distinctive practice theory approach (i.e. sociomateriality) and the concept of imbrication in this research to show that MACs practices emerge from the entanglement between human/social agency and material/technological agency within an organisation. Changes in the pattern of MACs practices happens in imbrication processes which are produced as the two agencies entangle. The theoretical approach employed in this research offers an interesting and valuable lens which seeks to reveal the depth of these interactions and uncover the way in which the social and material imbricate. The theoretical framework helps to reveal how these constructions impact on and produce modifications of MACs practices. The exploration of the control practices at different hierarchical levels (i.e. from the operational to middle management and senior level management) using the concept of imbrication process also maps the dynamic flow of controls from operational to top management and vice versa in the organisation. The empirical data which is the focus of this research has been gathered from a case study of an organisation involved in a large vertically integrated palm oil industry company in Malaysia specifically the refinery sector. The palm oil industry is a significant industry in Malaysia as it contributed an average of 4.5% of Malaysian Gross Domestic Product, over the period 1990 -2010. The Malaysian palm oil industry also has a significant presence in global food oil supply where it contributed 26% of the total oils and fats global trade in 2010. The case organisation is a significant contributor to the Malaysian palm oil industry. The research access has provided an interesting opportunity to explore the interactions between different groups of people and material/technology in a relatively heavy process food industry setting. My research examines how these interactions shape and are shaped by control practices in a dynamic cycle of imbrications over both short and medium time periods.
Date of Award30 Mar 2015
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAlan D Lowe (Supervisor) & Melina M Manochin (Supervisor)


  • management accounting and control
  • practice
  • sociomateriality
  • sociomaterial practice
  • imbrication
  • palm oil
  • Malaysia

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