The influence of management accountants on managerial decisions

Hans ten Rouwelaar*, Jan Bots, Ivo De Loo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate which factors stimulate or hinder the influence management accountants operating at the business unit (BU) level have on the decisions taken by their BU manager(s). Design/methodology/approach: The authors collected data from 119 management accountants in 77 Dutch, multi-divisional organizations, using surveys. Findings: The study shows that influence on managerial decisions can have two forms: influence on strategic decisions, and influence on operating decisions. Influence on strategic decisions is positively related to the degree of decentralization of an organization. It also depends on whether a management accountant is more extravert and emotionally stable. There is a negative relationship between influence on operational decisions and management accountants’ agreeableness. Not being sufficiently critical may well diminish their influence on operational affairs. Research limitations/implications: The authors put the view that management accountants at the BU level can partially affect their own role. This may also be expected by their managers. There are more opportunities for management accountants to influence strategic decisions than operational decisions. This study, however, is limited to Dutch, multi-divisional organizations. The management accountants who completed the survey also belong to the personal networks of master degree students who assisted in the data collection process, so that the sample used is not random. Data collected in another country, or in smaller companies could yield different results. Practical implications: Knowing more about the complex relationship between BU management accountants’ personality traits and their degree of influence on managerial decisions allows organizations to make better-informed choices about who to appoint in such a role. Originality/value: This study distinguishes between management accountants’ influence on strategic decisions and influence on operational decisions. At the BU level, these are two distinct concepts. This reinforces findings from earlier studies conducted at the corporate level. In addition, it turns out that specific personality traits of management accountants, at the BU level, affect the influence they can exert on both strategic and operational decisions taken by their manager(s).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-464
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Applied Accounting Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

© Emerald Publishing Limited 2018
Published by Emerald Publishing Limited
Licensed re-use rights only.
Hans ten Rouwelaar, Jan Bots, Ivo De Loo, (2018) "The influence of management accountants on managerial decisions", Journal of Applied Accounting Research, Vol. 19 Issue: 4, pp.442-464,


  • Controller involvement in management
  • Decision making
  • Management accountants
  • Personality traits


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