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The strategic competence of accountants and middle managers in budget making

  • Fauré, Bertrand
  • Rouleau, Linda
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    This paper aims to advance the notion of the "situated functionality of numbers" (Ahrens & Chapman, 2007) by investigating the practical knowledge of strategy which shapes the calculations performed by accountants and middle managers when they are making a budget. It proposes an in-depth investigation of the budgeting conversations collected during an extensive field study in a large construction firm that had undertaken a new partnership strategy. Drawing on a conversation analytical approach, it identifies three micro-practices of calculation constitutive of the accountants' and middle managers' strategic competence: invoking the usefulness of numbers to activate local projects; constructing the acceptability of numbers to report them to external partners; authorising the plausibility of numbers to reconcile local contingencies and global coherence. The paper then explores how accountants and middle managers come to a mutual understanding of their respective accountabilities when they perform their strategic competence. It ends by discussing the unintended consequences of these transformations in their professional roles.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0361368211000419
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Accounting, Organizations and Society.

    Volume (Year): 36 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 3 (April)
    Pages: 167-182

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:36:y:2011:i:3:p:167-182
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/aos

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    1. Davila, Tony & Wouters, Marc, 2005. "Managing budget emphasis through the explicit design of conditional budgetary slack," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 30(7-8), pages 587-608.
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    15. Fisher, Joseph G. & Frederickson, James R. & Peffer, Sean A., 2006. "Budget negotiations in multi-period settings," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 511-528, August.
    16. Linda Rouleau, 2005. "Micro-Practices of Strategic Sensemaking and Sensegiving: How Middle Managers Interpret and Sell Change Every Day," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(7), pages 1413-1441, November.
    17. Vollmer, Hendrik, 2007. "How to do more with numbers: Elementary stakes, framing, keying, and the three-dimensional character of numerical signs," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 577-600, August.
    18. Abernethy, Margaret A. & Lillis, Anne M., 1995. "The impact of manufacturing flexibility on management control system design," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 241-258, May.
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