Towards fluid role identity of management accountants: A case study of a Finnish bank

Antti Rautiained, Robert Scapens, Marko Järvenpää, Tommi Auvinen , Pasi Sajasalo

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In our case study of a Finnish bank, we found that the role identity of management accountants is becoming fluid, i.e., it is constantly adjusting to accommodate shifting role expectations and changing context-specific demands. Digitalization and information technology (with such tools as artificial intelligence and robotic process automation) are key drivers of change. Furthermore, banking is also a regulated field with an increasing amount of data to be interpreted. The combination of these rather different trends is challenging for management accountants as they strive to cope with multiple pressures. We explore the role identity of management accountants (called ‘controllers’ in our case), and we find varying and fluid roles, including the roles discussed in the existing accounting literature, including the traditional ‘bean counter’ role and the ‘business partner’ role, as well as new, typically IT-related, specialist roles. We suggest that their fluid role identity enables controllers in our case to cope with continuously evolving tasks, and with changing role expectations. In this context, controllers are increasingly working in agile teams with specialists with diverse educational backgrounds and expertise.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101341
JournalThe British Accounting Review
Early online date2 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Feb 2024


  • Accounting change
  • Banking
  • Controllers
  • Digitalization
  • Management accounting
  • Role identity


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