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Management accounting networks in corporate processes – a cross-national study

Christoph Endenich (Accounting and Management Control Department, ESSEC Business School, Cergy Pontoise, France)
Rouven Trapp (Department of Accounting and Management Control, TU Dortmund University, Dortmund, Germany)
Michael Brandau (Business and Healthcare, FH Bielefeld – University of Applied Sciences, Bielefeld, Germany)

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change

ISSN: 1832-5912

Article publication date: 6 March 2017




This study aims to compare styles of management accounting (MA), i.e. the way in which MA influences corporate decision-making, in German and Spanish companies. The study illustrates relevant differences by comparing the role of management accountants in decision-making processes and puts a particular emphasis on their networking activities in a corporate context.


This study builds on field study data from semi-structured interviews with senior management accountants in German and Spanish companies. The authors analyze the data within the framework of the actor-network theory (ANT).


In the sampled German companies, strong networks between management accountants and other corporate functions have been established, whereas the corresponding Spanish networks are emerging but remain fragile because of interference from anti-programs, mistrust and defensive departmental attitudes. Although MA in Spain has established only few accepted routines and remains distant from managerial decision-making, it enjoys an unquestioned standing in the German companies, because its routines and procedures are embedded into corporate culture. This embedding is facilitated by not only information technology but also relatively simple tools such as templates, timetables and standardized agendas.

Research limitations/implications

The present study underlines how combining the field study approach with rationales from ANT can provide relevant insights into MA practices in its corporate context.

Practical implications

The present study provides guidance for management accountants striving for an increased influence on corporate decision-making and an improved collaboration with corporate management.


The authors extend the traditional spectrum of theoretical approaches in comparative MA studies. The ANT lens allows to show how styles of MA are shaped by interdependencies between institutional settings and networking processes. In this way, this paper complements previous cross-country research, which has mainly relied on contingency theory to examine static, country-specific differences in relation to distinct environmental and cultural conditions.



The authors would like to thank Zahirul Hoque (the editor) and two anonymous reviewers for insightful feedback on the manuscript.


Endenich, C., Trapp, R. and Brandau, M. (2017), "Management accounting networks in corporate processes – a cross-national study", Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 25-43.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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