Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


There is a widely held, but little tested, supposition that certain characteristics and uses of management accounting and control systems are retarding the adoption of flexible automation technologies such as robots and other computer controlled machines. This thesis describes an empirical study of the relationships between adoption of flexible automation and those aspects of accounting systems most often cited as inhibiting adoption: emphasis on accounting measures in managerial evaluation, length of time horizons of evaluations and capital budgeting criteria, emphasis on financial criteria in justifying capital investments, and inability of accounting systems to capture costs and benefits of automation. As well, by using partial correlations, the study examines the relationships between accounting and adoption variables with decentralization held constant. Data were collected with a mail questionnaire survey of 32 managers of plants supplying parts to General Motors of Canada. In addition, 29 of the managers were personally interviewed. A statistical analysis indicates that the long-term time horizon of budget targets and reports is the only accounting variable significantly correlated with adoption, and that decentralization does not impact on the adoption-accounting relationships. The statistical results are interpreted in the light of information gleaned from the face-to-face interviews and plant visits. After presenting an agenda for future research and arguing the need for more field research, the thesis concludes with the recommendation that top management wishing to promote the adoption of advanced technologies lengthen the time horizons of budget targets and reports.



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