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Chief financial officer (CFO) characteristics and ERP system adoption: An upper-echelons perspective

Martin R.W. Hiebl (Management Accounting and Control, University of Siegen, Siegen, Germany)
Bernhard Gärtner (Institute of Management Control and Consulting, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Linz, Austria)
Christine Duller (Department for Applied Statistics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Linz, Austria)

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change

ISSN: 1832-5912

Article publication date: 6 March 2017




This paper aims to examine the relationship between characteristics of chief financial officers (CFOs) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) system adoption. Following upper echelons theory, the authors theorize that CFO age, education, tenure and recruitment influence ERP system adoption, and that this relationship is moderated by the CFO being responsible for firm-wide information technology (IT) functions.


The empirical analysis is based on a survey of 296 large and medium-sized Austrian firms. Logistic regression analyses were used to test the association between CFO characteristics and ERP system adoption.


The authors find that firms with externally recruited CFOs have adopted ERP systems significantly more often than firms with internally promoted CFOs. Surprisingly, the results indicate that firms with less educated CFOs more often adopted an ERP system, and that the relationship between CFO characteristics and ERP system adoption is not moderated by the CFO being responsible for IT.

Research limitations/implications

This paper adds to the literature by corroborating case-based evidence that CFOs and their characteristics influence ERP system adoption. Extending previous research which indicates that CFO characteristics influence accounting practices, the authors show that CFO characteristics also influence technological innovation such as the adoption of ERP systems. Future research on technological innovation may therefore pay closer attention to the influence of CFOs.


This paper is the first to quantitatively test the influence of CFO characteristics on ERP system adoption.



A previous version of this paper has been presented at the 11th Annual Conference for Management Accounting Research (ACMAR) in Vallendar, Germany, and the authors would like to thank ACMAR participants for valuable comments on the paper. Moreover, the authors are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for most helpful comments which helped to improve the paper. The authors also thank Ingrid Abfalter for assistance in language editing and Stefanie Gschwantner and Michael Kuttner for research assistance.


Hiebl, M.R.W., Gärtner, B. and Duller, C. (2017), "Chief financial officer (CFO) characteristics and ERP system adoption: An upper-echelons perspective", Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 85-111.



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