Management Accountants' Participation in Strategic Management Processes: A Cross-Industry Comparison*

By Aver, Bostjan; Cadez, Simon | Journal for East European Management Studies, July 1, 2009 | Go to article overview

Management Accountants' Participation in Strategic Management Processes: A Cross-Industry Comparison*


Aver, Bostjan, Cadez, Simon, Journal for East European Management Studies


While the role of management accountants has traditionally been limited to the provision of useful information to decision-makers, recent studies show that contemporary management accountants have become an integral part of strategic decision-making processes. The findings based on a survey of 193 large Slovenian companies reveal that Slovenian accountants are relatively strongly involved in strategic management processes, although the level of participation varies intensely across industries. Participation is relatively high in contemporary manufacturing industries, the trade sector, and tourism and hospitality services, whereas it is relatively low in public services and utilities, construction, and logistics sectors.

Während die Rolle der kostenrechner sich traditionell auf die Bereitstellungen von Informationen für Entscheidungsträger beschränkt hat, zeigen aktuelle Studien dass heutige Kostenrechner ein integraler Bestandteil von strategischen Entscheidungsprozessen geworden sind. Die vorliegenden, auf 193 großen slowenischen Unternehmen basierenden Ergebnisse offenbaren, dass slowenische Kostenrechner relativ stark an strategischen Managementprozessen beteiligt sind, obwohl das Beteiligungsniveau zwischen den Branchen stark variiert. Die Beteiligung ist relativ hoch in der Industrie, im Handel, im Tourismus und in der Gastronomie, während sie in öffentlichen Versorgungsunternehmen, im Baugewerbe und im Logistiksektor relativ niedrig ist.

Keywords: management accounting, strategic management, participation, Slovenia

Introduction

As a consequence of growing uncertainty and competitiveness in the business environment many firms have placed customer satisfaction at the forefront of their strategy (Huit et al 2005; Cater/Cater 2009a) and adapted organisational structures and processes accordingly (Brouthers/Roozen 1999; Trkman et al 2007). Traditional vertical functional organisational structures have started to be phased out in favour of 'horizontally' integrated activities in the value chain (Chenhall 2008). In so-called 'horizontal organisations', strategic decisionmaking is carried out by management teams whose members come from different functional fields, including management accountants (Scott/Tiessen 1999; Naranjo-Gil/Hartmann 2007; Rowe et al. 2008).

Twenty-five years ago Kaplan (1984) claimed that the development of management accounting was too isolated from other disciplines and was thus losing its importance in the organisational structure, yet today this description no longer seems appropriate (Chenhall 2008; Rowe et al. 2008). In fact, Cravens and Guilding (2001) claim that the last two decades reflect a bona fide renaissance in management accounting. From a holistic perspective, two main trends in the discipline are evident. First, a range of strategically-oriented accounting techniques has been developed lately in the fields of costing, planning, control and performance measurement, and strategic decision appraisal (Guilding et al. 2000; Chenhall 2008). Second, the role of modern management accountants has recently evolved beyond their traditional role of merely providing useful information to decision-makers. Many commentators and practitioners report that modern accountants have become active players in the entire decision-making process (Fern/Tipgos 1988; Oliver 1991; Bhimani/Keshtvarz 1999; Nyamori et al. 2001; Rowe et al. 2008). The term strategic accountant is often used to denote these newly emerged accountants as they are proactive in analysing broader business issues than those traditionally defined by a historical/financial/operational orientation (Coad 1996; Brouthers/Roozen 1999). Some authors (Guilding et al. 2000; Hoque 2001; Roslender/Hart 2003) feel that the changes in the discipline are so substantial that a whole new discipline called 'strategic management accounting' has emerged.

Cater (2005) and Cater and Cater (2009b) assert that modern firms should strive to build up their competitiveness on rare intangible sources and not so much on tangible ones.

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