Opening the black box of the role of accounting practices in the fuzzy front-end of product innovation

Martin Carlsson-Wall, Kalle Kraus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


This paper has focused on the question "What is the role of accounting practices in the fuzzy front-end of product innovation?" Previous accounting research has primarily focused on the product development phase, neglecting the critical, early fuzzy front-end phase. Our findings, based on a case study of a producer of components to airplane engines, contribute to this literature by showing that keeping within the expenditure budget together with technical quantifications replaced the need for financial quantifications when the R&D department justified their work. Non-financial accounting practices thereby operated as a mediating instrument that mediated between the R&D department and internal and external actors regarding expectations about time and commercial potential. The study also contributes to the literature on product innovation in networks by detailing how accounting practices helped in making sure that the produce perspective was confronted with the use perspective and thereby secured attention to business aspects in the innovation process. In addition, accounting practices helped in constructing relatively coherent chains of trustworthy arguments necessary to mobilize support and resources from internal and external actors. Finally we contribute to the bricolage literature by detailing how accounting practices support network bricolage, and the importance of innovators being able to perform selective bricolage where bricolage is complemented with more confrontational behavior to move the innovation process forward.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-194
Number of pages11
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Accounting
  • Fuzzy front-end
  • Mediating instrument
  • Network bricolage
  • Product innovation

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