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Exploring management accountants’ role conflicts and ambiguities and how they cope with them

Exploring management accountants’ role conflicts and ambiguities and how they cope with them The aim of this study is to explore the nature of the expectations of operations managers (OMs) and the enacted roles of management accountants (MAs) and to understand how MAs construct roles around these expectations.Design/methodology/approachA qualitative design draws upon company documentation and 36 semi-structured interviews with MAs and OMs. The study uses role theory as a theoretical lens with its core concepts of role expectations, role conflict and role ambiguity. The design draws from role theory’s original development and testing to pair particular roles of MAs with particular roles of OMs in operational settings.FindingsThe findings indicate that there are a number of different forms of OMs’ expectations giving rise to role conflicts and role ambiguity for the roles of MAs. OMs’ expectations were identified as conflicting expectations, ambiguous expectations, overloaded expectations and underloaded expectations. MAs construct roles in different ways around these OMs’ expectations, including prioritising the line function, competence deployment, non-accommodation and communication. Factors moderating OMs’ expectations are also identified, including characteristics of the OM and the role of the finance manager.Research limitations/implicationsThe study is based on an in-depth investigation of a small number of roles of MAs paired with OMs, and no assurances can therefore be given regarding generalisability of the findings.Practical implicationsThe results provide an understanding of the varied nature of expectations that OMs have of MAs and mechanisms through which MAs can address these expectations. It suggests ways in which both MAs and OMs in operational settings can reduce conflicts and ambiguities.Originality/valueThis paper provides an in-depth analysis of the expectations of OMs in relation to the roles of MAs and contributes to the literature on the roles of MAs using role theory. It shows how different forms of OMs’ expectations have related mechanisms used by MAs to navigate these expectations through role constructions. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management Emerald Publishing

Exploring management accountants’ role conflicts and ambiguities and how they cope with them

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References (96)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1176-6093
DOI
10.1108/qram-11-2016-0083
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The aim of this study is to explore the nature of the expectations of operations managers (OMs) and the enacted roles of management accountants (MAs) and to understand how MAs construct roles around these expectations.Design/methodology/approachA qualitative design draws upon company documentation and 36 semi-structured interviews with MAs and OMs. The study uses role theory as a theoretical lens with its core concepts of role expectations, role conflict and role ambiguity. The design draws from role theory’s original development and testing to pair particular roles of MAs with particular roles of OMs in operational settings.FindingsThe findings indicate that there are a number of different forms of OMs’ expectations giving rise to role conflicts and role ambiguity for the roles of MAs. OMs’ expectations were identified as conflicting expectations, ambiguous expectations, overloaded expectations and underloaded expectations. MAs construct roles in different ways around these OMs’ expectations, including prioritising the line function, competence deployment, non-accommodation and communication. Factors moderating OMs’ expectations are also identified, including characteristics of the OM and the role of the finance manager.Research limitations/implicationsThe study is based on an in-depth investigation of a small number of roles of MAs paired with OMs, and no assurances can therefore be given regarding generalisability of the findings.Practical implicationsThe results provide an understanding of the varied nature of expectations that OMs have of MAs and mechanisms through which MAs can address these expectations. It suggests ways in which both MAs and OMs in operational settings can reduce conflicts and ambiguities.Originality/valueThis paper provides an in-depth analysis of the expectations of OMs in relation to the roles of MAs and contributes to the literature on the roles of MAs using role theory. It shows how different forms of OMs’ expectations have related mechanisms used by MAs to navigate these expectations through role constructions.

Journal

Qualitative Research in Accounting & ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 24, 2018

Keywords: Management accountants; Expectations; Accounting roles; Conflict; Ambiguity; Role theory

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