Management Accountants' Occupational Prestige within the Company: A Social Identity Theory Perspective

43 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2013

See all articles by Keke Hiller

Keke Hiller

WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management

Matthias D. Mahlendorf

Frankfurt School of Finance & Management

Jürgen Weber

WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management

Date Written: September 27, 2013

Abstract

Professional associations and researchers in management accounting have attempted to increase the prestige of management accountants. Although studies have suggested that occupational prestige is important, the prestige of management accountants within the employing organization and its consequences are still not fully understood. Building on social identity theory, we investigate the effect of occupational prestige, as perceived by management accountants, on organizational-professional conflict. We suggest that prestige can mitigate conflict because management accountants with high prestige will identify more strongly with their organization, as they see it as a source of self-esteem and might believe that they are taken more seriously by managers. At the same time, we hypothesize that prestige exerts an indirect conflict-increasing effect via professional identification. This is based on the idea that prestige may cause proud management accountants to start to identify more strongly with their profession and become hard-liners, unwilling to compromise the values associated with their profession in the interest of the firm. Results from a series of three surveys support the indirect conflict-increasing effect. Moreover, the results suggest a direct conflict-reducing effect of perceived prestige. The implications for research and practice are discussed.

Keywords: Occupational prestige, professional identity, organizational identity, organizational-professional conflict

JEL Classification: M41

Suggested Citation

Hiller, Keke and Mahlendorf, Matthias D. and Weber, Jürgen, Management Accountants' Occupational Prestige within the Company: A Social Identity Theory Perspective (September 27, 2013). European Accounting Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2331986

Keke Hiller

WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management ( email )

Burgplatz 2
Vallender, 56179
Germany

Matthias D. Mahlendorf (Contact Author)

Frankfurt School of Finance & Management ( email )

Adickesallee 34
Frankfurt, DE RLP 60322
Germany

Jürgen Weber

WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management ( email )

Burgplatz 2
Vallender, 56179
Germany

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