The Role of the Controller in the Perspective of Strategy as Practice: A theoretical essay

Rosália Lavarda, Fernanda Cardoso Scussel, Joice Denise Schäfer


Objective: This theoretical essay aims to explore how the controller participates in the strategy formation process, in the perspective of strategy as a practice.

Method: We developed a theoretical essay based on the main issues related to the role of the controller in organizations and a general explanation of the theoretical model of strategy as a practice proposed by Jarzabkowski and Spee (2009).

Originality/Relevance: We propose a new approach for management accounting studies by bringing together two fields of knowledge – accountability and strategy – under a constructivist perspective, exploring the role of the controller as a business partner and a strategy practitioner. We argue controllers act as middle managers in the implementation of organizational strategies, playing a fundamental role in strategy translation, communication and on its operational issues.

Results: From the intersection between the two themes, three general propositions were developed, combining elements of strategy as practice (practice, praxis and practitioners) and the role of the controller, which serve as a basis for the advance of future research. This is a seminal step into future avenues of research and theoretical or empirical studies about the microperspective of management accounting.

Theoretical/Methodological contributions: This theoretical essay analyzes the controller role in the micro-organizational perspective of the strategy as practice, addressing future research possibilities that unite the two lines of knowledge.


Controller; manager accountant; middle manager; strategy as practice; strategizing

Full Text:



Andersen, T. (2013). Strategic management, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Appleyard, M. M. and Chesbrough, H. W. (2017). “The dynamics of open strategy: from adoption to reversion”, Long Range Planning, 50 (3), 310-321.

Balogun, J. and Johnson, G. (2005). “From intended strategies to unintended outcomes: the impact of change recipient sensemaking”, Organization Studies, 26, 1573–1601.

Birkinshaw, J. (2017). “Reflections on open strategy”, Long Range Planning, 50 (3), 423-426.

Burns, J., and Baldvinsdottir, G. (2005). “An institutional perspective of accountants' new roles–the interplay of contradictions and praxis”, European Accounting Review, 14 (4), 725-757.

Burns, J., and Vaivio, J. (2001). “Management accounting change”, Management accounting research, 12 (4), 389-402.

Byrne, S., and Pierce, B. (2007). “Towards a more comprehensive understanding of the roles of management accountants”, European Accounting Review, 16 (3), 469-498.

Dameron, S., Lê, J. K. and Lebaron, C. (2015). “Materializing strategy and strategizing material: why matter matters”, British Journal of Management, 26, S1-S12.

Gegenhuber, T. and Dobusch, L. (2017). “Making an impression through openness: how open strategy-making practices change in the evolution of new ventures”, Long Range Planning, 50 (3), 337-354.

Goretzki, L., Strauss, E. and Weber, J. (2013). “An institutional perspective on the changes in management accountants’ professional role”, Management Accounting Research, 24 (1), 41-63.

Granlund, M., and Malmi, T. (2002). “Moderate impact of ERPS on management accounting: A lag or permanent outcome?”, Management Accounting Research, 13, 299–321.

Hart, S. L. (1992). “An integrative framework for strategy-making processes”, Academy of Management Review, 17 (2), 327-351.

Hautz, J.; Seidl, D. and Whittington, R. (2016). “Open strategy: Dimensions, dilemmas, dynamics”, Long Range Planning, 30, 1-12.

Hutter, K.; Nketia, B. A. and Füller, J. (2017). “Falling short with participation—different effects of ideation, commenting, and evaluating behavior on open strategizing”, Long Range Planning, 50 (3), 355-370.

ICV, IGC. (2013). “The essence of Controlling—the perspective of the Internationaler Controller Verein (ICV) and the Internatinal Group of Controlling (IGC)”, Journal of Management Control, 23 (4), 311-317.

Jack, L., and Kholeif, A., (2008). “Enterprise resource planning and a contest to limit the role of management accountants: a strong structuration perspective”, Accounting Forum, 32 (1), 30–45.

Järvenpää, M. (2007). “Making business partners: a case study on how management accounting culture was changed”, European Accounting Review, 16 (1), 99-142.

Jarzabkowski, P., and Paul Spee, A. (2009). “Strategy‐as‐practice: A review and future directions for the field”, International Journal of Management Reviews, 11 (1), 69-95.

Jarzabkowski, P., Balogun, J., and Seidl, D. (2007). “Strategizing: The challenges of a practice perspective”, Human Relations, 60 (1), 5-27.

Johnson, G., Langley, A., Melin, L. and Whittington, R. (2007). “Strategy as practice: research directions and resources”. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Johnson, G., Melin, L., and Whittington, R. (2003). “Guest editors' introduction: micro strategy and strategizing: towards an activity-based view”, Journal of Management Studies, 40 (1), 3-22.

Lambert, C., and Sponem, S. (2012). “Roles, authority and involvement of the management accounting function: a multiple case-study perspective”. European Accounting Review, 21 (3), 565-589.

Lounsbury, M. and Crumley, E. (2007). “New practice creation: an institutional perspective on innovation”, Organization Studies, 28, 993–1012.

Malhotra, A., Majchrzak, Ann., and Niemiec, R. M. (2017). “Using public crowds for Open Strategy formulation: mitigating the risks of knowledge gaps”, Long Range Planning, 50 (3), 397-410.

Malmi, T., Seppala, T., and Rantanen, M. (2001). “The Practice of Management Accounting in Finland-A Change?”, Liiketaloudellinen aikakauskirja, 480-501.

Orlikowski, W. (2007). “Sociomaterial practices: exploring technology at work”, Organization Studies, Vol. 28, pp. 1435–1448.

Orlikowski, W. J., and Scott, S. V. (2008). “Sociomateriality: Challenging the separation of technology, work and organization”, The Academy of Management Annals, 2 (1), 433–474.

Pietrzak, Ż., and Wnuk-Pel, T. (2015). “The roles and qualities of management accountants in organizations–evidence from the field”, Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 21(3), 281-285.

Pretorius, M. (2016). “Crooked strategy implementation: covert tactics fill the gaps”. Journal of Business Strategy, 37 (4), 24-31.

Reckwitz, A. (2002). “Towards a theory of social practice: a development in cultural theorizing”, European Journal of Social Theory, 5, 243–262.

Scapens, R. W., and Jazayeri, M. (2003). “ERP systems and management accounting change: Opportunities or impacts? A research note”, European Accounting Review, 12, 201–233.

Silva, A. R. L. D., Carrieri, A. D. P., and Souza, E. M. D. (2011). “Social practices and strategizing: a study of produce merchants in the Vila Rubim market”, Brazilian Administration Review, 8 (1), 86-106.

Weber, J. (2011). “The development of controller tasks: explaining the nature of controllership and its changes”, Journal of Management Control, 22 (1), 25-46.

Werle, F. and Seidl, D. (2015). “The Layered Materiality of Strategizing: Epistemic Objects and the Interplay between Material Artefacts in the Exploration of Strategic Topics”, British Journal of Management, 26 (1), S67–S89.

Whittington, R. (2002). “The work of strategizing and organizing: for a practice perspective”, Strategic Organization, 1 (1), 119-127.

Whittington, R. (2006). “Completing the practice turn in strategy research”, Organization Studies, 27 (5), 613-634.

Whittington, R. (2007). “Strategy practice and strategy process: family differences and the sociological eye”, Organization Studies, 28 (10), 1575-1586.

Whittington, R, Cailluet, L, and Yakis‐Douglas, B. (2011). “Opening strategy: Evolution of a precarious profession”. British Journal of Management, 22 (3), 531-544.

Wolf, S, Weißenberger, B. E., Wehner, M. C. and Kabst, R. (2015) “Controllers as business partners in managerial decision-making: Attitude, subjective norm, and internal improvements”, Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, 11 (1), 24-46.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

e-ISSN: 1984-3925

Licença Creative Commons
The JAMG adopts the Creative Commons license CC-BY-NC ND Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 

Indexing and Abstracting:

Logotipo SPELLLogotipo LATINDEX Logotipo OPENAIRE Logotipo DOAJLogotipo Cengage Logotipo EBSCOLogotipo REDIB Logotipo ESCI