Essay on Decision Making

14571 Words May 1st, 2014 59 Pages
Roles, authority and involvement of the management accounting function: a multiple case-study perspective
Caroline Lambert HEC, Paris 1, rue de la Libération 78351 Jouy en Josas Cedex Samuel Sponem Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers GREG-CRC (EA 2430)


The authors are grateful to participants at the European Accounting Association Conference 2009, the Accounting department ESSEC seminar, France, and at the seminar of Ecole de Comptabilité de l’Université Laval, Québec, Canada for their constructive comments on earlier drafts of this paper. They also wish to thank and useful suggestions of members of the CriM group, Martin Messner and Juhani Vaivio. We would particularly
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Our detailed analysis of management accountants’ work reveals that these roles can be associated with both unexpected benefits, such as fostering creativity, and unforeseen drawbacks, such as drift in governance. Furthermore, our findings bring to light other, unexplored roles—centralising power or socialising managers, for example—providing us with a more enriched understanding of -1-

management accounting practice. From this in-depth analysis of management accountants’ styles and roles we move on to discuss the authority they hold and the independence/involvement dilemma they face in the workplace. Key words: management accountant, role, business partner


Management accountants have long played multiple roles variably described as scorekeeping, attention-directing, and problem-solving roles (Simon, Kozmetsky, Guetzkow & Tyndall, 1955). Whereas scorekeeping and attention-directing roles typically focus on compliance reporting and control-type issues respectively, the problem-solving role centres on providing business unit managers with relevant information for decision making (Hopper, 1980; Sathe, 1982). These roles respectively match two commonly held images of the typical accountant: the bean counter and the business partner (Friedman & Lyne, 2001; Granlund & Lukka, 1998b; Vaivio, 2006; Vaivio & Kokko, 2006). A number of scholars view these two roles as being in conflict

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