An empirical study on management accountants’ roles and role perceptions: A German perspective

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Robert Rieg ORCID logo, Patrick Ulrich ORCID logo, Carmen Finckh

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The ongoing discussion on roles of management accountants (MAs) leads often to perceive the business partner (BP) role as the role of choice. Yet, many scholars and practitioners seem to assume that this role is clear to managers and MAs, that it makes sense for them and that all managers and MAs agree on it and implement it. Inconsistencies between actual roles, perceived, and expected roles might cause identity and role conflicts. However, we lack evidence of whether managers and MAs perceive, expect and act in the BP role and if tensions and conflicts might exist. This paper is based on a quantitative empirical study of a large German high-tech firm in 2019 whose top management decided to implement the BP role. We found several areas of tension in this role discussion and contribute to the literature on MAs’ roles with a more nuanced view of the interaction between managers and MAs regarding MAs’ roles. The study shows that there are mainly differences in business managers’ expectations of MAs to the role of the BP, which the MAs do not know exactly how to fulfill.

Keywords: Management Accountants, Business Partnering, Role Theory, Role Conflict, Empirical Study

Authors’ individual contribution: Conceptualization — R.R., P.U., and C.F.; Methodology — P.U. and C.F.; Formal Analysis — R.R. and P.U.; Writing — Original Draft — R.R., P.U., and C.F.; Writing — Review & Editing — R.R., P.U., and C.F.; Visualization — C.F.; Supervision — R.R., P.U., and C.F.

Declaration of conflicting interests: The Authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

JEL Classification: M00, M40

Received: 26.04.2022
Accepted: 07.11.2022
Published online: 08.11.2022

How to cite this paper: Rieg, R., Ulrich, P., & Finckh, C. (2022). An empirical study on management accountants’ roles and role perceptions: A German perspective. Corporate Ownership & Control, 20(1), 31–45.