Roles, authority and involvement of the management accounting function: a multiple case-study perspective

C. LAMBERT, S. Sponem

European Accounting Review

September 2012, vol. 21, n°3, pp.565-589

Departments: Accounting & Management Control

accepté le 6 septembre 2011Recent techniques and shifts in the environment are often viewed as leading management accountants to adopt a business orientation. However, empirical evidence pointing to clear shifts in the role played by management accountants remains relatively scarce. From in-depth qualitative research based on 73 interviews in ten multinational companies, we identify four distinct styles of management accounting function: discrete, safeguarding, partner, and omnipotent. We show that each style can be associated with one main role: discrete control of managerial behaviour, socialisation of managers, facilitation of decision-making, and centralisation of power. 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.Keywords: management accountant, role, business partner