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School of Business | Department of Accounting | Accounting | 2013
Thesis number: 13270
Controller´s role formation: interplay between self-perceptions and organizational discourse CASE: ABB OY
Author: Lindfors, Mia
Title: Controller´s role formation: interplay between self-perceptions and organizational discourse CASE: ABB OY
Year: 2013  Language: eng
Department: Department of Accounting
Academic subject: Accounting
Index terms: laskentatoimi; accounting; johdon laskentatoimi; managerial accounting; työ; work; ammatit; professions; identiteetti; identity; henkilöstöhallinto; personnel management
Pages: 103
Key terms: management accounting, business controller, role change, identity formation, identity regulation, managerial discourse
Study objectives: The goal of this study is to research the process of controller´s role, or professional identity, formation. In this study, controller´s role is seen as a result of interplay between self-identity and general discourse among managers. The purely structural factors are not seen adequate in explaining controller´s contemporary role. In order to successfully research this top-level objective, three following research questions are presented: 1. What kind of role does controller´s self-image play in his/her role formation? 2. What kind of role does managerial discourse prevalent in the unit play in controller´s role formation? 3. What kind of role do the other unit-specific factors play in controller´s role formation?

Study material and methods: The study material consists of academic journals regarding management accounting change and literature regarding the theory of identity construction. The empirical data was conducted in the target company through company-wide survey, which was followed by semi-structured interviews in the biggest business unit of the company. The scope of the interviews included unit-level managers, sales directors and controllers.

Study outcomes: The study results suggest that controller´s role formation is a multiphase process, in which controller´s self-image is key factor. Controller´s interest towards business instead of pure numbers and understanding of company´s core competence are important when the goal is to increase controllers´ business orientation in target company. However, also adapting self-initiative attitude and learning to see the isolated organizational positioning as an opportunity is important. Also discursive practices among the managers and the established practices affect controller´s role formation: in the target company, controllers are expected to participate in decision-making rather indirectly, though increasing cost knowledge inside different function. The designed reporting systems do not adequately support controller´s role change, as routine reporting takes a lot of much time. Nevertheless, in the center of controller´s role formation processes are unit-specific factors such as nature, maturity and clientele. Based on the results from this study, these have remarkable effect on controller´s role formation.
Master's theses are stored at Learning Centre in Otaniemi.