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Controllers as business partners in managerial decision-making: Attitude, subjective norm, and internal improvements

Sebastian Wolf (Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany)
Barbara E. Weißenberger (Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany)
Marius Claus Wehner (Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, University of Paderborn, Paderborn, Germany)
Rüdiger Kabst (Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, University of Paderborn, Paderborn, Germany)

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change

ISSN: 1832-5912

Article publication date: 2 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine whether controllers are willing to and/or general managers are expecting them to act as business partners and, hence, to analyze the related consequences from a manager’s point of view.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is based on a dyadic data set gathered from 112 German head controllers and corresponding general managers in the period of March to May 2009. Drawing on the theory of reasoned action (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975), the authors examine controllers’ attitude, subjective norm and behavior regarding their participation in managerial decision-making. Further, the authors analyze general managers’ assessment of related outcomes, such as internal efficiency and process improvements and use covariance-based structural equation modeling to test for the theoretical relationships.

Findings

Results show that controllers’ behavior is strongly influenced by management’s expectations. Moreover, the results support the notion that business partnering is associated with organizational improvements regarding internal processes, decisions and efficiency, thereby increasing the contribution of the controllers’ department to the competiveness of an organization.

Research limitations/implications

Our study focuses on a limited set of variables and does not incorporate different hierarchy levels, which could be avenues for further research. Still, our findings highlight the importance of management’s expectations as triggers for business-oriented behavior of controllers.

Originality/value

Theory and empirical evidence in the research area of controllers’ business orientation are still underdeveloped and, therefore, knowledge about the micro-processes and determinants on an individual level for becoming a business partner, as well as on the related outcomes of such a behavior is still limited. The results contribute to literature by highlighting the importance of general managers’ expectations as triggers for business orientation of controllers and its related benefits for the organization.

Keywords

Citation

Wolf, S., Weißenberger, B.E., Claus Wehner, M. and Kabst, R. (2015), "Controllers as business partners in managerial decision-making: Attitude, subjective norm, and internal improvements", Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 24-46. https://doi.org/10.1108/JAOC-10-2012-0100

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited