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Occupational identity of management accountants in Britain and Germany


  • Thomas Ahrens
  • Christopher Chapman


The existence of management accounting as an unproblematic occupational label is often taken for granted. Prompted by contemporary discussions concerning radical changes in management accounting practice, we sought to examine the extent to which practitioners' accounts of practice demonstrate a coherent occupational identity. Collecting sixty-four occupational autobiographies in seventeen German and twelve British firms we found that management accountants in the two countries constructed common occupational identities out of their diverse experiences. Echoing the findings of anthropological practice theory, the good practitioner rhetorically reconciled a wide variety of contradictory attributes in their occupational idiom.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Ahrens & Christopher Chapman, 2000. "Occupational identity of management accountants in Britain and Germany," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(4), pages 477-498.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:9:y:2000:i:4:p:477-498 DOI: 10.1080/09638180020024070

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Boland, Richard Jr., 1993. "Accounting and the interpretive act," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 18(2-3), pages 125-146, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Winter, Peter, 2007. "Managerial Risk Accounting and Control – A German perspective," MPRA Paper 8185, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Empson, Laura, 2004. "Organizational identity change: managerial regulation and member identification in an accounting firm acquisition," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 29(8), pages 759-781, November.
    3. Alnoor Bhimani, 2002. "European management accounting research: traditions in the making," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(1), pages 99-117.
    4. Janne Järvinen, 2009. "Shifting NPM agendas and management accountants' occupational identities," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 22(8), pages 1187-1210, October.
    5. Marie-Andrée Caron & Hugues Boisvert & Alexander Mersereau, 2008. "La Pratique Du Comptable Professionnel En Organisation : Inertie Du Stéréotype Ou Expérimenter L'Incertain?," Post-Print halshs-00522425, HAL.
    6. Sèna John-Ahyee, 2012. "La stabilité des activités des contrôleurs de gestion est-elle paradoxale?," Post-Print hal-00690976, HAL.
    7. Ahrens, Thomas & Chapman, Christopher S., 2007. "Management accounting as practice," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 1-27.
    8. Brandau, Michael & Endenich, Christoph & Trapp, Rouven & Hoffjan, Andreas, 2013. "Institutional drivers of conformity – Evidence for management accounting from Brazil and Germany," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 466-479.
    9. Ahrens, Thomas & Chapman, Christopher S., 2006. "Doing qualitative field research in management accounting: Positioning data to contribute to theory," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 31(8), pages 819-841, November.
    10. Ivo De Loo & Peter Nederlof & Bernard Verstegen, 2006. "Detecting behavioural patterns of Dutch controller graduates through interpretive interactionism principles," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 3(1), pages 46-66, April.
    11. Caroline Lambert & Jérémy Morales, 2009. "Les pratiques occultes des contrôleurs de gestion:une étude ethnographique du «sale boulot»," Revue Finance Contrôle Stratégie,, vol. 12(2), pages 5-34, June.
    12. Anne Pezet & Jérémy Morales, 2010. "Les contrôleurs de gestion, « médiateurs » de la financiarisation," Post-Print halshs-00498673, HAL.
    13. Skærbæk, Peter, 2009. "Public sector auditor identities in making efficiency auditable: The National Audit Office of Denmark as independent auditor and modernizer," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 971-987, November.
    14. Samantha Warren & Lee Parker, 2009. "Bean counters or bright young things?: Towards the visual study of identity construction among professional accountants," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 6(4), pages 205-223, October.
    15. Morales, Jérémy & Lambert, Caroline, 2013. "Dirty work and the construction of identity. An ethnographic study of management accounting practices," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 228-244.

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