Management accountants' business orientation and involvement in incentive compensation : empirical results from a cross-sectional survey
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In recent years, management accountants - in German-speaking countries also referred to as "controllers" - and their functional roles have been a major research issue. In brief, management accountants are not supposed to act as "company watchdogs" or "cost recorders" anymore, but rather as a "business partner" to management. In this context, management accountants gain increasing importance for managerial decision making. Even though this change has been subject to a broad discussion in literature, some research gaps still remain. In his dissertation, Sebastian Wolf successfully addresses several of these research gaps. In a first step, Wolf analyzes possible reasons why management accountants should act as a business partner in general. Based on the seminal model of Ajzen/Fishbein ( 1980), Wolf finds that the changing role of management accountants rather stems from external managerial pressure than from internal attitudes. He also finds that acting as a business partner has a significant, albeit small, positive impact on firm performance. In a second step, Wolf complements these results with an in-depth study of the involvement of management accountants in incentive compensation. He finds that this is beneficial especially for firms in which management accountants see themselves as business partners. The results of Wolfs outstanding analyses are based on empirical data gathered by questionnaire with the top 1,500 German companies in terms of revenue in 2009. This database is distinctive as not only management accountants were surveyed, but also general managers. The dyadic study design combining constructs measured with management accountants with those measured with general managers reduces common method bias as well as key informant bias, thus increasing the validity of Wolfs results. The dissertation of Sebastian Wolf is therefore a valuable source of knowledge not only for researchers but also for practitioners in the field of management accounting as two major bottom Jines can be drawn from this book. First, firms benefit from management accountants acting as business partners. Second, to induce this change, it is not sufficient to address only the management accountants. General managers also have to be included, as ultimately, it is their demand for decision making support that brings about the desired change in management accountants' practice.
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