PurposeThis paper aims to examine how remote (i.e. global, regional or divisional) management accountants communicate in interpersonal contacts with operational managers when trying to exert influence on them.Design/methodology/approachAn ethnographic field study focusing on budgetary control meetings between regional management accountants and operational managers is used as the basis for a micro-level analysis of situated face-to-face interactions and communicative influence tactics.FindingsRemote management accountants mainly use soft rather than hard influence tactics. They, furthermore, employ what is referred to as “panoramic knowledge” gained explicitly from their structurally as well as physically removed “meta-positioning” to suggest certain measures to operational managers that have proved successful in other units and – by doing so – try to exert influence on these managers. Moreover, they use information that they gain in their position in between senior and operational managers by acting as “double agents” – that is, informing operational managers about senior managers’ focus as well as making transparent to operational managers that they will inform senior management about specific operational matters. By doing so, they try to prompt operational managers to address these issues. Additionally, strengthening their verbally articulated suggestions, as “minute takers” they are able to document their suggestions by moving from spoken to a more binding written text. Through these purposeful and rather unobtrusive tactics, remote management accountants try to take influence on operational managers without generating their resistance.Originality/valueThe paper shows how remote management accountants (as staff members) can skillfully turn their apparently powerless position within the organization into a source of strength to exert influence on operational managers.
Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 7, 2017
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