The Role of the Management Accountantin the Swedish Public Sector An Empirical Study
Sammanfattning: The management accountant has been a part of European corporations since the nineteen seventieswhen they started to divisionalise, but the profession has been an important part in Americancorporations for much longer. Of course there had been accountants in European organisations before, but with this rearrangement they had to take on new tasks and to be more future-oriented. In the nineteen eighties, when the profession was still rather young in Europe, both managementaccounting as a subject and the role of the management accountant attracted substantial attention within the academic and business worlds and several investigations and theories were made to describe the new phenomenon. As for most new phenomena, the interest decreased after a fewyears, but after a down period the management accountant has now again started to attract attentionwith new studies as a result. Albeit there to date have been a number of investigations theyhave typically dealt with corporations within the private sector and very few about the managementaccountant in the public sector even though he/she is frequent there and the public sector employs a large number of individuals. To change the common focus we have made this study about the role of the management accountant in the Swedish public sector. The purpose of the study is to contribute to the knowledge within the area of management accounting by examining and analysing the role of the management accountant in the public sector.To do this we have studied the management accountant in the central level of the public sectorwhere we examined both central authorities and state owned companies. This was done by sendinga questionnaire to role practitioners within the Swedish public sector and then compiling andanalyzing the result. When analyzing the result some interesting facts were found. The management accountant in the Swedish public sector devotes a lot of his time to the traditional accounting areas of budgeting and reporting. This implies a role of the management accountant that is more internally than externally focused although he/she to some extent also uses external information and influences others within the organisation in his work. In other words the role has not developed as earlier has been expected. The differences within the three organisations in the public sector investigated are not obvious, but it seems that the role of the management accountant in central authorities is somewhat more developed compared to the role in state owned companies. When comparing the management accountant’s role in the public sector to the private practitioner’s it is seen that they are mainly the same. Although the role in the public sector is slightly more distinctthan, and not as influencing on others as the role of the private management accountant.
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