Managerial discourse and the link between theory and practice: From ROI to value-based management


Building on Thrift’s (2005) concept of the cultural circuit of capitalism using critical discourse analysis, the paper investigates the influence of management accounting concepts on practice. The paper proposes that the way that academic theories in management accounting affect practice depends on the origin of the early texts, the extent to which the texts become discourses and the relative institutional support for the discourse. The approach is illustrated by focusing on three particular management accounting concepts: return on investment (ROI), value-based management (VBM) and strategic management accounting (SMA) and empirically contextualised through the case history of GEC/Marconi. The paper explains that, whilst ROI and VBM have, to varying degrees, become part of managerial discourse, SMA has remained a loose collection of academic texts and has had a negligible impact on managerial discourse and practice.


  • Managerial knowledge;
  • Critical discourse analysis;
  • Return on investment;
  • Value-based management;
  • Strategic management accounting

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