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Let ' s talk: Adapting accountants ' communications to small business managers ' objectives and preferences

Gerard Stone (The University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 2 August 2011




The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of small business managers ' objectives and preferred methods of communicating on the communications aspect of accountants ' advisory relationship with small business. Through exploring and reporting on these issues, the paper seeks to contribute to understanding of accounting ' s capacity to satisfy the communication needs of its users.


The study employs a mixed methodology, comprising a questionnaire to access evidence from small business managers and semi-structured interviews with accountants, which provide a complementary perspective to accountant/small business communications. The analysis of the findings is informed by media richness theory.


Small business managers prefer direct forms of contact with their accountants and the richness of verbal communications. This is demonstrated in accountants ' use of visual and audio cues, including reinforcing and adjusting techniques, which enhance the appeal and utility of verbal communications. Accountants ' documents have been relegated to a supplementary reinforcing function in the profession ' s communications with small business. Small firm managers ' objectives influence their interest in and use of accounting information and the communications approach that their accountant implements. The findings indicate that accountants adopt communications approaches with small business managers, which satisfy the communication needs of the economically significant small business sector, a significant user of accounting information and services.


The paper contributes to redressing a gap in the accounting discipline ' s literature regarding accountants ' communications with small business, while offering insights that may be useful to practitioners in their advisory relationships with small business managers.



Stone, G. (2011), "Let ' s talk: Adapting accountants ' communications to small business managers ' objectives and preferences", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 24 No. 6, pp. 781-809.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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