Management Accountants' Occupational Prestige within the Company: A Social Identity Theory Perspective
43 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2013
Date Written: September 27, 2013
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: Suggested Citation