Prabhu Sivabalan is a Professor of Management Accounting and Head of Accounting. Prior to pursuing an academic career, Prabhu was a cadet analyst in Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.
Prabhu's research interests are broadly in the application of core accounting concepts such as budgeting and costing to innovative and far-reaching contexts not usually associated to accounting, such as healthcare, entrepreneurship and high innovation environments. He leads the Financial and Performance Transformation in Healthcare Group, a collaboration between NSW Health and the UTS Business School.
Prabhu has had his research accepted in reputable peer reviewed accounting journals since completing his doctoral thesis in 2007, including Accounting, Organizations and Society, Management Accounting Research, Journal of Management Accounting Research, Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Accounting and Finance, Qualitative Research in Accounting and Management, Managerial Auditing Journal, Australian Accounting Review and Journal of Applied Management Accounting Research. He has also published in non-accounting spaces, including the Hydrology and Earth System Sciences journal.
From a practice perspective, Prabhu has researched in, presented to or trained managers in reputable institutions from a wide range of industries, including NSW Health, the National Rugby League (NRL), CSR, Citigroup and Seven Media. He has presented widely in academic and practitioner conferences with professional services bodies such as the CA, CPA and IPA bodies on the topic of budgeting and performance management more broadly. He is a Board member of the CIMA Asia Pacific Research Centre of Excellence, advocating for the relevance of management accounting to organisations globally.
Prabhu has strong research and teaching links with top academic institutions globally. He continues to be a visiting lecturer and researcher in the Department of Accounting at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), having completed a sabbatical at the LSE in 2008-2009. He also researches with faculty in the Said Business School, Oxford University, and has lectured in their well reputed Executive MBA program on the subject Financial Management.
Prabhu continues to lecture in the MBA and undergraduate course subjects offered by the School of Accounting. He has been regularly voted in the Graduate School of Business as well as undergraduate top lecturer lists over the past 15 years, and was the inaugural recipient of the Accounting Discipline Group teaching prize.
Seconded on sabbatical to London School of Economics as a visiting lecturer, from September 2008 - July 2009
Can supervise: YES
Budgeting and forecasting; strategy; management control systems, healthcare costing and management, innovation, entrepreneurship.
Completed PhD degree with UTS on "The Importance of Operational Reasons to Budget for Two Budget Forms, and their Relationship to Organisational Characteristics"
Management accounting; introductory accounting.
Bhimani, A, Dai, NT, Sivabalan, P & Tang, G 2018, 'How Do Enterprises Respond to a Managerial Accounting Performance Measure Mandated by the State?', Journal of Management Accounting Research, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 145-168.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
We study the application of Economic Value Added (EVA®) by Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) following a regulatory requirement to deploy the measure. Our theoretical framing engages conceptual elements of institutional work and public accountability research to consider why key actors vary in their responses to the mandated application of EVA®. Our data derive from 30 interviews with managers in three SOEs and their oversight body (the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council). We identify two relevant dimensions associated with managers: accounting centricity and institutional potential and report that they drive the authenticity of actors' responses in the absence of enforcement of the mandated measure. When accounting centricity and institutional potential align to the dictates of the higher implementing body, accountability remains high, notwithstanding the absence of enforcement. When these two factors do not align, accountability fails even when politicization is high and formal accountability claims are high. Where the two factors are partially present, the accountability response is mixed. Our study contributes to a refinement of the perspective advanced by prior investigations of institutionally sanctioned rollouts of accounting systems highlighting, in particular, the role of human agency in explaining actor responses.
Bhimani, A, Sivabalan, P & Soonawalla, K 2018, 'A study of the linkages between Rolling Budget Forms, Uncertainty and Strategy', The British Accounting Review, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 306-323.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Addressing the dearth of studies on rolling budgets, we investigate how the importance of rolling budgets for various planning, control and evaluation reasons relate to a business unit's strategy and uncertainty, and report on the variation in these responses when partitioned into quarterly and monthly rolling budget types. We use a survey instrument with responses from 182 rolling budget firms in our investigation. Our findings reveal consistencies as well as deviations between our sub-samples (quarterly and monthly rolling budgets), and the total rolling budget sample. We report that the way rolling budgets relate to uncertainty and strategy in organisations are substantively different for monthly and quarterly rolling budget types, and vary across planning, control and evaluation budget reasons. Our findings show a greater sensitivity between monthly rolling budgets and uncertainty/strategy, and virtually nil relations between quarterly rolling budgets and uncertainty/strategy. We posit that monthly rolling budgets are used in a manner more traditionally associated to rolling budgets in prior studies, while quarterly rolling budgets might be used relatively more symbolically or in response to external pressures such as earnings forecast requirements, and are less sensitive to established organisational antecedents such as uncertainty/strategy.
Bisbe, J & Sivabalan, P 2017, 'Management control and trust in virtual settings: A case study of a virtual new product development team', Management Accounting Research, vol. 37, pp. 12-29.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
In this case study, we draw on theory relating to the trust-control nexus to investigate how formal Management Control Systems (MCS) and inter-personal trust relate in Virtual Teams (VTs), and examine the implications of this interplay for VT outcomes. Taking a virtual new product development team as our research site, we evidence the reciprocal influences between trust and formal MCS in a virtual setting. We show that in addition to formal MCS helping uphold inter-personal trust, trust enables the adoption and workability of incomplete formal MCS, hence expanding and shaping the set of control alternatives that are available to a VT. We further extend prior theory by providing evidence of synergies between inter-personal trust and formal MCS that span both the decision-facilitating and decision-influencing MCS roles, indicating that the combination of trust and formal MCS enhances the informational and motivational effects of controls, as well as the motivational effects of trust, on VT outcomes. Overall, this study adds to the accounting literature by shedding light on how formal MCS help manage highly interdependent tasks in dispersed contexts where inter-personal trust is present.
Bhimani, A, Silvola, H & Sivabalan, P 2016, 'Voluntary Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting: A Study of Early and Late Reporter Motivations and Outcomes', Journal of Management Accounting Research, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 77-101.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Neo-institutional logics for the early adoption of innovations are often argued as more authentic than for late adopters. To what extent might this be so in relation to corporate social responsibility reporting (CSRR)? We specifically focus on neo-institutionalist perspectives with an emphasis on isomorphism (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983) to illustrate alternative motivations, and verify our hypotheses using a mixed methods approach (survey data and field evidence from five organizations). We find that the rationale for early reporters entails a financial pragmatism that is absent in current debates surrounding corporate social responsibility (CSR). We also show that normative and coercive isomorphism interplay among early adopters to drive their adoption decision over time, and these facilitate the generation of different strategic postures to placate key external stakeholders. This contrasts with prior studies that have mainly argued for mimetic and normative isomorphism to dominate the decision to implement CSRR amongst adopters. Finally, we argue that late reporters choose not to engage earlier as (ironically) their strategic proximity to the phenomena being reported is intrinsically close, meaning most internal and external stakeholders assume the proper functioning of the phenomena being reported, and therefore do not demand it. This rationale for mimetic isomorphism is unique and its narrative more positive than that normally ascribed to it in the prior literature. Firms are subsequently less inclined to opportunistically validate or signal their sustainability ethos using formal reporting systems, and only do so superficially to engage in practices similar to other organizations in their industry or broader economy as a norm.
Kamal, O, Brown, D, Sivabalan, P & Sundin, H 2015, 'Accounting information and shifting stakeholder salience: An industry level approach', Qualitative Research in Accounting and Management, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 172-200.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2015 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose - The purpose of this research is to understand how accounting information mobilises stakeholder salience at an industry level. Design/methodology/approach - A case study method using an explanation building approach was applied to gather information surrounding dairy industry stakeholder uses of accounting information to communicate their salience, in the historical context, leading to, and the events surrounding the milk price "war" in Australia. The Mitchell et al. (1997) stakeholder salience framework was used to advance our understanding of the different ways accounting can be mobilized by stakeholders with different types of salience attributes, at an industry level. Findings - This empirical analysis produces two insights into the relation between accounting and stakeholder salience. First, there is evidence as to how accounting information impacted on stakeholder salience at an industry level by demonstrating how accounting information (in)directly communicated and justified the increase of a stakeholder's level of salience. Second, the Mitchell et al. (1997) model is extended by attributing levels of importance to each stakeholder attribute. It was found that, in this setting, power was the most salient attribute of the three, usurping legitimacy and urgency, leading to the outcomes observed. Research limitations/implications - This paper acknowledged the usual method limitations related to this style of qualitative research, including investigator bias and lack of statistical generalization. In addition, a second set of limitations critiques the paper's operating framework. While the Mitchell et al. (1997) stakeholder salience model proved to be a suitable choice for this research, it is limited in the way in which stakeholder attributes are presented and used to identify stakeholders. In addition, further light may be provided on the distinctions between the different magnitudes of power, legitimacy and ...
Bhimani, A, Ncube, M & Sivabalan, P 2015, 'Managing risk in mergers and acquisitions activity: Beyond 'good' and 'bad' management', Managerial Auditing Journal, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 160-175.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose – This paper aims to assess the impact of the presence/absence of risk management practices on the risk of merger and acquisition (M & A) failure. Design/methodology/approach – An agency theoretic perspective is adopted, along with a mixed-methods approach to study managerial complexity beyond simply 'good' and 'bad'. The focus is on an agency conflicts. Findings – The authors first present an integrated framework that classifies managerial behaviour and risk management, where M & A bids can become vehicles for maximising managerial benefits rather than shareholder value. The authors proceed to consider M & A activity that benefits both managers and shareholders in the presence of risk management strategies. Research limitations/implications – The paper highlights the benefits of multiple paradigms and research paths that address dimensions captured by an agency theoretic perspective. Practical implications – The authors regard this paper as having particular significance in that the global financial crisis has impactedM & Aactivities and objectives, shifting the employment and related risks faced by managers. Originality/value – The paper suggests future research paths to advance the understanding of the complex behaviour of managers involved inM & Aactivities that go beyond the classification of 'good' and 'bad' managers.
Khalifeh, CJ & Sivabalan, P 2014, 'An Experimental Study on the Effect of Budget Information on Balanced Scorecard Preparer Individual Learning', Australian Accounting Review, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 39-52.View/Download from: Publisher's site
We examine whether budgets affect individual learning in balanced scorecard (BSC) preparers for the purposes of scorecard target setting.Control systems research has called for studies examining the impact of multiple controls on common decision-making phenomena. Given this, are there other cybernetic controls (budgets) that might influence the decisions of BSC preparers? From an experimental study involving 235 postgraduate university candidates, our findings suggest that the awareness of progressively greater budget information amongst BSC users in high uncertainty environments engenders greater individual learning about the organisation, altering BSC preparer target-setting choices. Interestingly, this learning does not necessarily lead to better budget-actual outcomes, but informs BSC preparers of the constraints facing the organisation from a funding `supply side perspective. The oft-criticised budget, even within high uncertainty conditions, facilitates learning in a BSC system originally purported to replace or advance the traditional system. Finally, we contribute more broadly to a growing literature evidencing the appropriateness of budgets in flexible environments, by arguing for its impact on other performance management systems.
Andon, P, Free, C & Sivabalan, P 2014, 'The legitimacy of new assurance providers: Making the cap fit', Accounting Organizations and Society, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 75-96.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Kandasamy, JK, Sounthararajah, DP, Sivabalan, P, Chanan, A, Vigneswaran, S & Sivapalan, M 2014, 'Socio-hydrologic drivers of the pendulum swing between agricultural development and environmental health: a case study from Murrumbidgee River basin, Australia', Hydrology And Earth System Sciences, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 1027-1041.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Wu, C, Brown, DA, Sivabalan, P & Huang, P 2013, 'The application of target costing to the real-estate investment industry - a dual model approach', Asia Pacific Management Review, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 221-237.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This paper applies target costing (TC) to Taiwan's real-estate investment industry by considering the variation of selling prices in a batch of heterogeneous products (apartments). TC has largely been applied and studied in the manufacturing industry, assuming a structure of a single sale-price for homogenous products within the same batch. However, the products in the same construction batch in a real-estate investment project often have different prices caused by product attributes (floor level, orientation, location) and product changes requested by clients. We provide interview evidence from six real-estate investment firms highlighting how batch profit is pursued while focusing on different product prices within the same product batch. Unlike traditional applications of TC, our findings show target-cost levels may increase for higher-priced products, and do not necessarily decrease for lower-priced products. This is due to the economies of scale arising from purchasing components and maintaining customer satisfaction. The findings also reveal the importance of considering processes/procedures for dual models by emphasizing the increased product price and land investment at the preliminary planning stages, to achieve a more practical TC in the real estate investment industry.
Sivabalan, P, Booth, PJ, Malmi, T & Brown, DA 2009, 'An exploratory study of operational reasons to budget', Accounting & Finance, vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 849-871.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Budgets are used widely but criticized, mainly for performance evaluation reasons. We find that organizations regard budgets as more important for planning and control than evaluation, thus proposing a rationale for their continued use irrespective of evaluation-based criticisms. This finding is also important, because most extant budget research focuses on evaluation, suggesting a potential disconnect between budget research and practice. We also find that rolling forecasts are used in tandem with the annual budget in most organizations, and for the same reasons. This was unexpected, as coexistence suggests their adoption for different reasons.
Bedford, DS, Brown, DA, Malmi, T & Sivabalan, P 2008, 'Balanced scorecard design and performance impacts: some Australian evidence', Journal of Applied Management Accounting Research, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 17-36.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
consideration to the use of performance measurement systems, notably the Balanced Scorecard (BSC). However, there has been limited empirical investigation into the particular benefits that result from the use of the BSC (Ittner and Larcker, 1998). This study empirically examines how the BSC has been applied in practice and whether different BSC designs result in varying performance outcomes. Data is from a cross sectional survey, which provided a sample of 92 Australian firms using BSC. It is hypothesised that the BSC provides greater benefits when 1) cause and effect logic is used between measures 2) nonfinancial measures are tied to compensation and 3) implemented at multiple levels within the organisation. Results support the first proposition, although cause and effect logic appears to be more important if the BSC is tied to compensation. These results are discussed, and implications for practice and future research are presented.
Bedford, DS, Brown, DA, Malmi, T & Sivabalan, P 2008, 'Balanced scorecard design and performance impacts: some Australian evidence', Journal of Applied Management Accounting Research, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 17-36.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Academic literature is giving increased consideration to the use of performance measurement systems, notably the Balanced Scorecard (BSC). However, there has been limited empirical investigation into the particular benefits that result from the use of the BSC (Ittner and Larcker, 1998). This study empirically examines how the BSC has been applied in practice and whether different BSC designs result in varying performance outcomes. Data is from a cross sectional survey, which provided a sample of 92 Australian firms using BSC. It is hypothesised that the BSC provides greater benefits when 1) cause and effect logic is used between measures 2) nonfinancial measures are tied to compensation and 3) implemented at multiple levels within the organisation. Results support the first proposition, although cause and effect logic appears to be more important if the BSC is tied to compensation. These results are discussed, and implications for practice and future research are presented.
Sivabalan, P. 2002, 'Empowering staff to utilise web based trade matching - activities', South-South Business Review, vol. January, pp. 34-36.
Sivabalan, P. 2001, 'E-trade - web-based trading between G-15 nations - the way forward', South-South Business Review, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 32-37.
Brown, P, Ly, T, Pham, H & Sivabalan, P 2018, 'Exploring the role of automation and its relation to management controls in dynamic environments: energy efficiency management in service sectors', Journal of International Accounting Research Conference, Venice, Italy.
Bhimani, A, Sivabalan, P, Soonawalla, K & Wakefield, J 2016, 'Beyond Budgeting adoption challenges - an analysis of operating and strategic tensions through the rolling budget', Monforma Conference, Sofitel, Melbourne.
Andon, P., Free, C. & Sivabalan, P. 2013, 'Seeking and sustaining auditor credibility in new assurance spaces', EAA 2013 36th Annual Congress, European Accounting Association, Paris, France.
Sivabalan, P. & Rugoobur, A. 2011, 'Management control impacts on creative attribution generation in an innovation project setting', AFAANZ Conference, AFAANZ, Darwin, Australia.
Sivabalan, P. & Khalifeh, C.J. 2011, 'An experimental study on the effect of budgets on the balanced scorecard: An individual learning perspective', 34th Annual Congress - European Accounting Association, European Accounting Association, Rome, Italy.
This study investigates relationships between the importance of four operational budget reasons and the intensity of the cost leader/differentiator strategy in business units. The study considers this relationship for both annual budgets and rolling forecasts. Using data collected from a survey of 331 medium to large Australian business units, we find that more intensive adopters of differentiator strategies appear to regard annual budgets and rolling forecasts as more important for both operational planning and performance evaluation reasons - this represented a broader range of reasons than that observed for cost leader business units, which have been traditionally argued to be more sensitive to formal financial controls.
Sivabalan, P. 2009, 'On the question of budget relevance', 32nd Annual Congress European Accounting Association Programme, Annual Congress of European Accounting Association, European Accounting Association (EAA), Tampere, Finland.
Thiagarajah, T, Malmi, T, Wells, PA & Sivabalan, P 2009, 'Management control systems (MCS) in the third sector: An exploratory study', 7th Workshop on the Challenges of Managing the Third Sector, 7th Workshop on the Challenges of Managing the Third Sector, The European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management, Brussels.
Thiagarajah, T, Malmi, T, Wells, PA & Sivabalan, P 2009, 'Management control systems (mcs) in the third sector: An exploratory study', 32nd Annual Congress European Accounting Association Programme, Annual Congress of European Accounting Association, European Accounting Association (EAA), Tampere, Finland.
Thiagarajah, T, Sivabalan, P & Giacobbe, F 2008, 'Emphasis on accounting controls: asset specificity and the use of accounting and non-accounting information within IT outsourcing engagements', 31st Annual Congress European Accounting Association Conference Website Papers, Annual Congress of European Accounting Association, European Accounting Association (EAA), Rotterdam, Netherlands, pp. 1-20.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This study observes the nature of asset specificity in different Information Technology (IT) outsourcing typologies, and investigates the relevance of accounting and non-accounting numbers in relation to these outsourcing typologies, with consideration to the findings of literatures concerning Transaction Cost Economics Theory and Social Capital Theory. It represents a response to the lack of research on relationships of IT outsourcing engagements. A case study research method is used to analyse the effect of asset specificity on the nature of relationship, and the use of accounting and non-accounting information in supporting the decision making processes of the Outsourcing Service Provider. Contrary to the findings of many researchers, the outsourcing-service provider adopted an integrative approach to its relationships as opposed to a distributive approach even in engagements that were highly asset specific, and short-term in duration. Additionally, the nature of asset specificity for IT outsourcing engagements is not static, but dynamic and in continual flux. Overall, this study suggests that large IT outsourcing-service providers value non-accounting factors in decision-making processes, in addition to accounting information, thus reflecting the Integrative Outsourcing Typology. This further validated the fact that factors advocated by Social Capital Theory such as corporate reputation, trust and collaborative interactions are crucial in IT outsourcing relationships.
Sivabalan, P, Malmi, T, Booth, PJ & Brown, DA 2008, 'Organisational characteristics, alternative reasons to budget and two budget forms', 2008 AFAANZ/IAAER Conference website papers, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference, AFAANZ, Sydney, Australia, pp. 1-42.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This study examines contingency relationships between organisational characteristics and four alternative operational reasons to budget, across two budget forms (fixed budget and rolling forecasts). Furthering the work of Hansen and Van der Stede (2004), results show that contingency relationships between organisational characteristics and the importance of operational reasons to budget were different for performance evaluation reasons, in comparison to operational planning reasons.
Sivabalan, P., Booth, P.J. & Malmi, T. 2007, 'Budget participation and budget emphasis in low uncertainty conditions - Considering alternative reasons to budget', Annual Congress of European Accounting Association, Lisbon, Portugal.
Sivabalan, P., Brown, D.A., Booth, P.J. & Malmi, T. 2007, 'An exploratory study of operational reasons to budget', An exploratory study of operational reasons to budget, European Accounting Association, Lisbon, Portugal, pp. 1-1.
Sivabalan, P., Booth, P.J. & Malmi, T. 2007, 'Budget participation and budget emphasis in low uncertainty conditions - Considering alternative reasons to budget', 2007 AFAANZ Conference, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference, AFAANZ, Gold Coast, Australia, pp. 1-33.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This case study investigates how lower budget participation may be better suited to firms with a high budget emphasis, in lower uncertainty conditions. The organisation studied generates greater benefits when budget participation is low, though it has a high budget emphasis. This result is opposite to that found in Lau, et.al. (1995). The reason for this difference is shown to arise because budget emphasis in the case firm is not primarily related to performance evaluation as defined in prior budget research (Hopwood, 1972). Instead, the main reason for budgeting is operational planning (Hansen and Van der Stede, 2003), and this difference is shown to lead to the opposing findings. When budgets are used primarily for operational planning, their relationships to organisational antecedents appear to be different than when used for performance evaluation.
Sivabalan, P., Booth, P.J., Malmi, T. & Brown, D.A. 2006, 'Alternative reasons to budget, firm and budgetary characteristics, and firm performance', AFAANZ Annual Conference 2006, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference, AFAANZ, Wellington, New Zealand, pp. 1-34.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Sivabalan, P., Booth, P.J., Malmi, T. & Brown, D.A. 2006, 'Further evidence on the impact of reasons-to-budget on budget importance and performance', 29th EAA Annual Conference, Annual Congress of European Accounting Association, EAA, Dublin, Ireland, pp. 1-45.
Bedford, DS, Sivabalan, P, Brown, DA & Malmi, T 2006, 'Balanced scorecard content, use, and performance impacts: some Australian evidence', Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand (AFAANZ), Wellington, New Zealand.
Sivabalan, P., Malmi, T., Brown, D.A. & Matolcsy, Z.P. 2005, 'An exploratory study of Australian operations budget practice', 2005 AFAANZ Conference Proceedings, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference, AFAANZ, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 1-26.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Brown, DA, Sivabalan, P, Booth, PJ & McKenzie, JA 2002, 'An action research approach to improving student learning outcomes using constructed alignment: Some evidence and implications for teaching cost accounting', Proceedings of the AAANZ Annual Conference, Poster Session at the AAANZ Annual Conference, Perth.
Brown, DA, Sivabalan, P, Booth, PJ & McKenzie, JA 2002, 'An action research approach to improving student learning outcomes using constructive alignment: Some evidence and implications for teaching cost accounting', School of Accounting Seminar Series, School of Accounting Seminar Series, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus.
Sivabalan, P. 2001, 'Project/Capital Evaluation'.
Sivabalan, P. & Booth, P.J. 2001, 'The impact of management accounting information systems on e-business: An exploratory study', School of Accounting Seminar Series, Queensland University of Technology.
Sivabalan, P., Booth, P.J. & Malmi, T. 2006, 'Budget participation and budget emphasis in low uncertainty conditions - considering alternative reasons to budget (Acct paper #79)', School of Accounting Working Paper Series.
Sivabalan, P. 2005, 'Further evidence on the impact of various reasons-to-budget on budget importance and performance (Acct paper #73)'.