An Institutional Perspective on the Changes in Management Accountants’ Professional Role
Posted: 2 Dec 2012 Last revised: 7 Dec 2012
Date Written: November 29, 2012
The paper theorizes how a new actor of a firm can drive the institutionalization of a new role for management accountants. Drawing on institutional theory and using insights from a single case study in a German manufacturing firm, the paper analyses the institutionalization of the so-called “business partner” role for management accountants, which was promoted and driven by the case firm’s newcomer CFO. The paper focuses on the micro-processes and especially the institutional work carried out by the new CFO that supported the entrenchment of the ‘business partner’ role within the case firm. In this light, we illustrate that especially three interrelated kinds of institutional work were carried out within the case firm to support the institutionalization of the management accountants’ new role: legitimizing the new ‘business partner’ role, (re-)constructing the management accountants’ role identities and linking the intra-organizational level with an institutional environment in which external actors aim to achieve changes in the management accountants’ role on a broader societal level. In this context, the paper also provides insights into the specific German management accounting context. Overall, the findings suggest that the institutionalization of a new role for management accountants can be understood as the product of purposive actions carried out by actors to support a specific institutional arrangement within the firm.
Keywords: institutional theory, institutional work, management accountant, role, role identity, legitimacy
JEL Classification: M4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation