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Accountants and small businesses: toward a resource-based view

Christine Weigel (University of Siegen, Siegen, Germany)
Martin R.W. Hiebl (University of Siegen, Siegen, Germany and Johannes Kepler University Linz, Linz, Austria)

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change

ISSN: 1832-5912

Article publication date: 16 November 2022

Issue publication date: 7 November 2023




Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) carry huge economic importance worldwide. At the same time, SMEs face specific challenges, some of which may be alleviated by employing accountants. However, research on the role and impact of accountants in SMEs has long remained fragmented and scarce. This paper aims to encourage more research on accountants in SMEs by providing the first comprehensive and systematic review of relevant research.


Based on systematic review methods, the authors critically examine 68 research articles dealing with accountants in SMEs.


The review identifies three dominant roles for accountants in SMEs: providers of reporting services, sources of SME owners’ self-validation and translators between capital providers and SMEs and advisors. Implicitly, many studies assume a value-enhancing effect of employing accountants in SMEs regardless of these specific roles. At the same time, available studies seldom make use of existing theoretical frameworks to more closely analyze the value-enhancing potential of human resources such as accountants. The authors, thus, propose the resource-based view as a robust theoretical framework to improve theory building in research on accountants in SMEs.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this paper is the first systematic review of accountants in SMEs. In addition, the authors develop a resource-based model on accountants in SMEs to guide future research on this topic.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the valuable comments by two anonymous reviewers and the editor. Previous versions of this paper have been presented at the 1st New Directions in Entrepreneurship Research Conference in Barcelona, Spain, the 1st EIASM Conference on Management Accounting and Control in SMEs in Assisi, Italy and the 42nd Annual Congress of the European Accounting Association in Paphos, Cyprus. It was furthermore submitted and accepted for presentation at the 103rd Annual Meeting of the American Accounting Association in San Francisco, USA. The authors would like to thank the reviewers, participants and discussants of those conferences for their most valuable comments and guidance, which helped to greatly improve the paper. A previous version of this paper was included as a chapter in the first author’s PhD thesis submitted at the University of Siegen, Germany.


Weigel, C. and Hiebl, M.R.W. (2023), "Accountants and small businesses: toward a resource-based view", Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, Vol. 19 No. 5, pp. 642-666.



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