Towards a more comprehensive understanding of the roles of management accountants

Seán Byrne, Bernard Pierce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-498
Number of pages30
JournalEuropean Accounting Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007


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