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Management perspectives on the role of the management accountant as an information provider

Feeney, Orla (2007) Management perspectives on the role of the management accountant as an information provider. Master of Business Studies thesis, Dublin City University.

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Abstract

The management accountant (MA) has traditionally been described as having two distinct roles. One role centres on control, the other on decision-making (DM) (Hopper, 1980). Developments in the business environment have altered the dynamics of these two roles suggesting that the contemporary MA is responsible for providing an increasingly wide range of information. The literature suggests that this can only be achieved if the MA becomes a hybrid accountant who assists managers in controlling the organisation in a modern context, while also occupying a ‘business partner’ role along side the management team (Bums and Yazdifar, 2001). A review of the literature identifies a need for a rigorous and up-to-date examination of the MA’s role and exposes a dearth of empirical research reporting managers’ perceptions of the MA’s role (Pierce and O’Dea, 2003). In response, this dissertation reports the findings from an empirical study of managers’ perceptions of the role of MAs in the provision of information for control and DM. Research questions were generated in the context of key control frameworks presented in the literature, as well as significant prior empirical research on the MA’s evolving role, user perceptions and the impact of change and contingent variables on the MA’s role. Semi structured interviews were carried out with eighteen managers regarding their information requirements, their expectations of the information provider, the perceived performance of their respective MAs relative to these expectations and perceived conflicts inherent in the MA’s role. A mixture of quantitative and qualitative data were gathered. The quantitative results were subject to statistical analysis and the qualitative results were analysed through an iterative process of coding and analytical induction. A framework of analysis was developed through which these findings could be interpreted in detail. Using this framework, the different types of MA evident from the findings were refined to four possible categories: the Reporter, the Guardian, the Interpreter and the Participator. Several factors were identified which may be associated with the role played by the MA. In addition, some further insights were gathered facilitating a deeper understanding of the complexities of the MA’s contemporary role. The study highlights the diversity of management accounting roles among different organisations. It examines what managers are looking for in the context of support for control and DM, and provides an insight into the levels of satisfaction among managers as to the role played by their MA in this regard. The study broadens our understanding of the control frameworks presented in the literature and examines the concept of the hybrid accountant, presenting a more detailed definition of the hybrid accountant than has previously been presented in the literature. Finally, the study increases our understanding of the conflicts inherent in the MA’s role, as perceived by the managers. By focusing on managers’ perceptions of the role of MAs, this study addresses a significant gap in the literature. It provides a deeper and more contemporary insight into the contingency-based research surrounding the MA’s role. It also contributes to the literature in the area of control, MA roles, the hybrid accountant and MA role conflict. The study concludes by suggesting possible directions for future research.

Item Type:Thesis (Master of Business Studies)
Date of Award:2007
Refereed:No
Supervisor(s):Pierce, Bernard
Uncontrolled Keywords:decision making; control; management accountants
Subjects:Business > Accounting
Business > Management
DCU Faculties and Centres:DCU Faculties and Schools > DCU Business School
Use License:This item is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. View License
ID Code:16999
Deposited On:25 Jun 2012 10:30 by Fran Callaghan. Last Modified 25 Jun 2012 10:30

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