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Panida Chotiyanon

DBA Graduate - 2018

Thesis title

Becoming a “Business Partner” A lifelong self-orienting process

Supervisor(s)

Vassili Joannides
Purpose The thesis aims at contributing to the knowledge of management accountants, an area which is understudied in the management accounting research, by explaining how business partner is constituted.Design/methodology/approach Situating the management accountants in the management accounting practice being in the nexus of others organizational practices , the thesis uses the grounded biographical method to trace the career paths of four financial practitioners in chronological order in order to gain an understanding on how their work identities are constituted in the practice. Findings The thesis reveals that the business partner is constituted in the deep entwinement of the practice, i.e., activities and practical and self- understanding; and the practitioner, i.e., personality/ style, with a significant role of the intentionality at play. Instead of one stereotyped business partner being constituted it has found three sub-typed business partners with different work identities, all bearing traits of the bean counters. This finding suggests that, as opposed to the general public image of the management accountants as being either the bean counters or the business partners, today’s management accountants are indeed being both the business partners and the bean counters. Research limitations/implications By theorizing how to develop today’s management accountants based on the three sub-typed business partners the thesis uniquely contributes to the management accounting literature in the rare area of career path development of the management accountants. Focusing on internal development program it challenges and suggests further researches on formal accounting education and its implication on the career path of management accountants. Practical implications As for the practitioners, the thesis provides an insight into the internal training program and the key elements therein which should be beneficial not only for the individual practitioner embarking on building a career in management accounting but most importantly for the management contemplating on establishing such a practice in the organization as well as educator planning for a program change. Social implications The thesis reminds of the influence of the public image of the practitioners on the practice and the society at large through education and training. Originality/value The originality of this thesis lies in its longitudinal approach to the phenomenon. Applying the grounded biographical method it chronologically traces the work lives of the research participants over a long period of 13-25 years in order to gain a deep insight and understanding on how each individual builds his/her work identity along the career path. This approach is quite rare compared with the existing field researches which mostly focus on “real-time” activities under a short period of time.Keywords Management accountants, Business partners, Career path, Schatzki’s practice theory, Biographical research