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Towards a More Comprehensive Understanding of the Roles of Management Accountants


  • Sean Byrne
  • Bernard Pierce


The study was designed to address specific gaps in the literature by identifying a comprehensive set of antecedents and characteristics with respect to the roles of management accountants (MAs) and exploring the consequences of how these roles are discharged. Interviews were conducted with 18 financial managers (FMs) and 18 operating managers (OMs) in medium and large manufacturing firms. Theoretical lenses of management control, contingency and role theory were used in the interpretation of the findings. A comprehensive picture of the antecedents, characteristics and consequences associated with the roles of MAs emerges from the data and the findings suggest that management and the MAs themselves play a critical part in the determination of the roles of MAs. In particular, the findings reveal contingencies and conflicts with regard to the interaction between MAs and OMs including the management control consequences associated with how MAs interact with OMs. For some MAs, the paper argues that role conflict, despite its negative connotations, may facilitate more effective management control. The adoption of a 'business partner' model for MAs is found here to be ambiguous, conditional and uncertain.

Suggested Citation

  • Sean Byrne & Bernard Pierce, 2007. "Towards a More Comprehensive Understanding of the Roles of Management Accountants," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(3), pages 469-498.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:16:y:2007:i:3:p:469-498
    DOI: 10.1080/09638180701507114

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    Cited by:

    1. Hiebl, Martin R.W., 2013. "Bean counter or strategist? Differences in the role of the CFO in family and non-family businesses," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 147-161.
    2. repec:eee:aosoci:v:61:y:2017:i:c:p:36-52 is not listed on IDEAS

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