This paper deals with our role as consultant-researchers in the improvement trajectory of a programme budget used in a Dutch province. For the 2009s programme budget the newly designed budget format was used in two pilot programmes. One year later we participated in the implementation of this format in all programmes of the 2010 budget. This paper discusses our activities in these different stages. Our aim is to show how consultant-researchers can contribute to the development of management accounting innovations in the public sector and how institutional theory can play a role here. Our interventions were directed at increasing the coherence between the logics underlying NPM-like innovations and the management accounting techniques adopted in actual practice. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.