To the extent that management accounting is based on neo-classical economics, all decision-making is assumed to be rational, aimed at utility or profit maximisation and all circumstances influencing decisions are accepted as stationary. The approach excludes all social, cultural or historical considerations and is based on perfect information that is freely available. Neo-classical economics further assumes that minimum government intervention, which is regulated by competition, will result in maximum benefit for society as a whole. This paper aims to determine the extent to which management accounting theory has been based on these limiting assumptions and finds that emerging management accounting theory is increasingly based on alternative, more liberating foundations. This situation is in contrast to management accounting education in South Africa, which remains almost entirely based on neo-classical economics.