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The role of the controller in strategic capital investment projects: a pragmatic constructivist view
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Business Administration and Industrial Engineering.
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Business Administration and Industrial Engineering.
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Business Administration and Industrial Engineering.
2015 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

There is a rich literature on techniques, such as portfolio management and stage-gate project management, which relies on a rational approach to strategic capital investment projects. There is however a lack of research on the process of creating and managing strategic capital investment projects. In particular, the controller is an important but seldom noticed actor in this process. This paper draws on a pragmatic constructivist framework to explore the role of the controller in strategic capital investment projects, to provide insights about how the role of the controller is constructed and about expectations on this role among the controllers themselves, project managers and top management. A case study was conducted in a Swedish mining corporation encompassing interviews, observations and documents pertaining to controllers and project managers involved in strategic capital investment projects. The research setting was chosen because of the heavy investment phase characterizing the case study organization and the access granted. The results illustrate that tasks associated with the traditional controller role constitute an important part of the role of the controller in strategic capital investment projects, although the controllers themselves envision their role as broader. The results indicate that controllers in strategic capital investment projects need to be able to tailor their role to suit specific situations. Although controllers themselves emphasize subjective information and the ability to make value-based assessments, managerial expectations and formal role descriptions mostly focus on facts and logic. At the same time, controllers and project managers wish to be trusted by each other but seem not to trust one another. We conclude that the role of the controller in strategic capital investment projects seems to be constructed through an intricate interplay between the views and desires of the controllers themselves, expectations from managers and organizational guidelines stipulating proper controller behavior. As ‘hybrid accountants’, the controllers experience tension between the traditional and the business partner dimensions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015.
Keyword [en]
Business / Economics - Business studies
Keyword [sv]
Ekonomi - Företagsekonomi
Research subject
Accounting and Control
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-38855Local ID: d5eec0cc-2175-49e3-b5c9-d587c3511475OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-38855DiVA: diva2:1012357
Conference
Workshop on Management Accounting in Practice and Research : 15/10/2015 - 16/10/2015
Note
Godkänd; 2015; 20151009 (andersn)Available from: 2016-10-03 Created: 2016-10-03Bibliographically approved

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