Strategising management accounting: liberal origins and neoliberal trends

Chandana Alawattage, Danture Wickramasinghe* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


This paper draws on the concepts of biopolitics and neoliberal governmentality to provide a sociological analysis of the strategic turn in management accounting.

This conceptual and review paper addresses four interrelated questions: How can the early history of management accounting be revisited from a biopolitical angle? How has strategising been linked to the neoliberal evolution of capitalism? How has this neoliberal connection transformed management accounting into its new form of strategising? What are the implications of this transformation for future research and pedagogical practices in management accounting?

Management accounting is strategised in four interrelated directions: by absorbing the jurisdictional and veridictional roles of the market into the calculative practices of management accounting; by transforming management accounting's centripetal hierarchical order of calculations to a centrifugal order the neoliberal governmentality demanded; by re-calculating the point of production as a site in which labour now takes the form of entrepreneurs of the self, performing not only material but also immaterial elements of managerial labour; and by rescoping management accounting to address issues the “fourth or the global age of security” brought, including the social and the environmental ones.

Research limitations/implications
The research expands the existing frames of reference for exploring contemporary calculative practices in neoliberal governmentality.

Social implications
Strategic turn in management accounting implicates in issues of security, governance and ethics and offers “new opportunities” for expanding management accounting's relevance beyond economic enterprises to various civil society and political constituencies.

This paper makes a theoretical contribution to management accounting's contemporary developments by demonstrating how it moves into biopolitical circulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-546
Number of pages29
JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Issue number2
Early online date27 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2022


  • Neoliberalisation
  • Management accounting
  • Strategy
  • Strategising


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