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The Work of the Accounting & Controlling Department and its Drivers: understanding the concept of a business partner

Cieslak, Katarzyna LU (2011) In Lund Studies in Economics and Management 122.
Abstract
The role of accountants in organizations is intriguing in the current context of the broad changes in the profession observed by many. Mainly because of technological advancements, what has previously required a considerable amount of time and effort, i.e. bookkeeping & reporting, has been assumed to ‘just happen’ easily, with a corollary that it should not be taken for granted, that the accounting department has to exist in companies in the way it has in the past. Seen in a positive light, the technological changes create opportunities for accountants to develop the management accounting/controlling aspects of their work and become increasingly involved in managing the business, contributing to the company’s performance.

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The role of accountants in organizations is intriguing in the current context of the broad changes in the profession observed by many. Mainly because of technological advancements, what has previously required a considerable amount of time and effort, i.e. bookkeeping & reporting, has been assumed to ‘just happen’ easily, with a corollary that it should not be taken for granted, that the accounting department has to exist in companies in the way it has in the past. Seen in a positive light, the technological changes create opportunities for accountants to develop the management accounting/controlling aspects of their work and become increasingly involved in managing the business, contributing to the company’s performance.



However, although the rhetoric of the accounting & controlling department be(com)ing a ‘business partner’ has been present for a number of years in both academy and business, theory about the business orientation of accountants is claimed to be underdeveloped and often anecdotal. Building on previous empirical research and theory about the work of the accounting & controlling department and incorporating thoughts from management control and practice theories, this empirical study of five accounting teams within one international company - a leading supplier of packaging solutions, tries to address this theoretical gap. This is achieved through entering a micro organizational realm, whereas previous literature has tended to look at macro–level drivers of change.



In sum, the framework built in this study tries to address two questions: ‘what does it mean to be a business partner?’ and ‘which micro organizational forces drive the work of the department and why?’ The study describes the different dimensions of the work of accountants including activities, interactions and used competences; and it explores and explains how organizational forces influence these dimensions, creating a local environment conducive, or not, to business partnering. The identified organizational drivers include, for example, issues linked to organizational design, organization of the accounting department, schedule of management meetings, attitudes of general managers and IT systems. The study framework hopefully offers an increased understanding of the phenomenon of business partnering, and it may also help practitioners in their transformation journey. (Less)
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author
supervisor
opponent
  • Nilsson, Fredrik, Uppsala University
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Accountants, accounting & controlling department, business partner, management accounting, accountants' role, accounting practices, organizational drivers, case study, corrugated packaging industry
in
Lund Studies in Economics and Management
volume
122
pages
391 pages
publisher
Lund Business Press
defense location
EC3:207
defense date
2011-04-15 13:15
ISBN
1091-85113-46-8
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
bbd5e403-afaf-4ae4-b8b7-a60e27d8da27 (old id 1845199)
date added to LUP
2011-03-11 11:56:37
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:09
@phdthesis{bbd5e403-afaf-4ae4-b8b7-a60e27d8da27,
  abstract     = {The role of accountants in organizations is intriguing in the current context of the broad changes in the profession observed by many. Mainly because of technological advancements, what has previously required a considerable amount of time and effort, i.e. bookkeeping &amp; reporting, has been assumed to ‘just happen’ easily, with a corollary that it should not be taken for granted, that the accounting department has to exist in companies in the way it has in the past. Seen in a positive light, the technological changes create opportunities for accountants to develop the management accounting/controlling aspects of their work and become increasingly involved in managing the business, contributing to the company’s performance. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
However, although the rhetoric of the accounting &amp; controlling department be(com)ing a ‘business partner’ has been present for a number of years in both academy and business, theory about the business orientation of accountants is claimed to be underdeveloped and often anecdotal. Building on previous empirical research and theory about the work of the accounting &amp; controlling department and incorporating thoughts from management control and practice theories, this empirical study of five accounting teams within one international company - a leading supplier of packaging solutions, tries to address this theoretical gap. This is achieved through entering a micro organizational realm, whereas previous literature has tended to look at macro–level drivers of change. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
In sum, the framework built in this study tries to address two questions: ‘what does it mean to be a business partner?’ and ‘which micro organizational forces drive the work of the department and why?’ The study describes the different dimensions of the work of accountants including activities, interactions and used competences; and it explores and explains how organizational forces influence these dimensions, creating a local environment conducive, or not, to business partnering. The identified organizational drivers include, for example, issues linked to organizational design, organization of the accounting department, schedule of management meetings, attitudes of general managers and IT systems. The study framework hopefully offers an increased understanding of the phenomenon of business partnering, and it may also help practitioners in their transformation journey.},
  author       = {Cieslak, Katarzyna},
  isbn         = {1091-85113-46-8},
  keyword      = {Accountants,accounting & controlling department,business partner,management accounting,accountants' role,accounting practices,organizational drivers,case study,corrugated packaging industry},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {391},
  publisher    = {Lund Business Press},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Lund Studies in Economics and Management},
  title        = {The Work of the Accounting & Controlling Department and its Drivers: understanding the concept of a business partner},
  volume       = {122},
  year         = {2011},
}