The role of management accounting in the construction of the new generation leadership in family firms: An Actor- Reality perspective

Antonio Leotta, Carmela Rizza, Daniela Ruggeri


Succession in family firms may determine the survival or the failure of the business itself. Management accounting
literature has added little to this issue, mainly focusing on the process of succession and change (Songini et. al, 2013;
Giovannoni et al., 2011). The present study deals with new management accounting (MA) practices that the junior
generation may introduce during the process of succession. The aim of the study is to show that the introduction of new
MA practices can contribute to construct the leadership profile of the junior generation. Drawing on the perspective of
Actor-Reality Construction, we conducted a case study at a small-sized, family firm producing solar shading systems.
We examined how the process of succession derives from the integration of four dimensions of reality: facts,
possibilities, values and communication. Such an integration is facilitated by the introduction of a new accounting
information system and cost report. The case evidence highlights that the construction of the new generation leadership
may emerge as unintended consequence of the introduction of new MA practices. From the emergent perspective of
Actor-Reality Construction, the paper investigates the role of new management accounting practices in the actor-world
relation constructing the new generation leadership.


Succession; actor-reality construction; management accounting practices

Full Text:



Auerbach, C., & Silverstein, L. 2003. Qualitative Data: An Introduction to Coding and Analysis. New York,

NY:University Press.

Barach, J. A., & Gantisky, J. B. 1995. Successful succession in family business. Family Business Review, 8, 131-155.

Birley, S. 1986. Succession in the family firm: The inheritor’s view. Journal of Small Business Management, 24(3),


Boje, D. M. 2001. Narrative methods for organizational and communication research. London: Sage.

Bracci, E., & Maran, L. 2012. The role and use of management accouting systems (MAS) in family firms: a case study.

Piccola Impresa/Small Businees, 3, 129-153.

Busco, C., Riccaboni, A., & Scapens, R.W. 2006. Trust for accounting and accounting for trust. Management

Accounting Research, 17, 11-41.

Cabrera-Suàrez, K., De Saa-Pèrez, P., & Garcìa-Almeida, D. 2001. The succession process from a resource-and

knowledge-based view of the family firm. Family Business Review, 14, 37-46.

Cadieux, L. 2007. Succession in small and medium-sized family businesses: Toward a typology of predecessor roles

during and after instatement of the successor. Family Business Review, 20, 95-109.

Cater, J.J., III., & Justis, R.T. 2009. The development of successors from followers to leaders in small family firms: An

exploratory study. Family Business Review, 22, 109-124.

Chlosta, S., Patzelt, H., Klein, S., & Dormann, C. 2012. Parental role models and the decision to become selfemployed:

The moderating effect of personality. Small Business Economics, 38, 121-138.

Collinson, D. L. 2006. Rethinking followership: A post-structuralist analysis of follower identities. Leadership

Quarterly, 17, 179-189.

Czarniawska, B. 1997. Narrating the organization: Dramas of institutional identity. Chicago: Chicago University


De Massis, A.D., Chua, J.H., & Chrisman, J.J. 2008. Factors preventing intra-family succession. Family Business

Review, 21, 183-199.

DeRue, D. S., & Ashford, S. J. 2010. Who will lead and who will follow? A social process of leadership identity

construction in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 35, 627-647.

Dyck ,B., Mauws F., Starke, A., & Mischke, G.A. (2002). Passing the baton. The importance of sequence, timing,

technique and communication in executive succession. Journal of Business Venturing,17, 143–162.

Dyer, W.G., 1986. Cultural change in family firms: Anticipating and managing business and family transitions. San

Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Fairhurst, G. 2001. Dualisms in leadership research. In F. M. Jablin & L. L. Putnam (Eds.), The New Handbook of

Organizational Communication (pp. 379-439). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Fairhurst, G. T. 2009. Considering context in discursive leadership research. Human Relations, 62, 1607-1633.

Fairhurst, G.T., Grant, D. 2010. The Social Construction of Leadership: A Sailing Guide. Management

Communication Quarterly, 24(2) 171–210.

Fox, M., Nilakant, V., & Hamilton, R. T. 1996. Managing succession in family-owned businesses. International Small

Business Journal, 15(1), 15–25.

Giovannoni, E., & Maraghini, M.P. 2013. The challenger of integrated performance measurement systems. Integrating

mechanisms for integrated measures. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 26, 6, 978-1008.

Giovannoni, E., Maraghini, M.P., & Riccaboni, A. 2011. Transmitting Knowledge Across Generations: The Role of

Management Accounting Practices. Family Business Review, 24, 2, 126–15.

Grint, K. 2005. Problems, problems, problems: The social construction of “leadership.” Human Relations, 58, 1467-

Handler, W.C. 1990. Succession in family firms: A mutual role adjustment between entrepreneur and next generation

family members. Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 15(1), 37–51.

Hunt, J.G., Osborn, R.N., & Schuler, R.S. 1978. Relations of discretionary and nondiscretionary leadership to

performance and satisfaction in a complex organization. Human Relations, 31, 507-523.

Jakobsen, M., Johansson, I.L., & Nørreklit, H. 2011. An Actor's Approach to Management. Conceptual Framework

and Company Practices. Copenhagen: DJØF Publishing.

Kajüter, P., Kulmala, H.I. 2005. Open-book accounting in networks: Potential achievements and reasons for failures.

Management Accounting Research, 16, 2, 179-204.

Kelly, L.M., Athanassiou, N., & Crittenden, W.F. 2000. Founder centrality and strategic behavior in family-owned firm.

Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 25(2), 27-42.

Lansberg, I. 1988. The succession conspiracy. Family Business Review, 1(2), 119–143.

Lansberg, I. 1999. Succeeding generations: Realizing the dream of families in business. Boston: Harvard Business

School Press.

Lansberg, I. 2007. The tests of a prince. Harvard Business Review, 85(9), 92-101.

Le Breton-Miller, I., Miller, D., & Steier, L.P. 2004. Toward and integrative model of effective FOB succession.

Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 28, 305-328.

Malone, S.C. 1989. Selected correlates of business continuity planning in the family business. Family Business Review,

(4), Winter, 341-353.

Mazzola, P., Marchisio, G., & Astrachan, J. 2008. Strategic planning in family business: A powerful developmental tool

for the next generation. Family Business Review, 21, 239-258.

Meindl, J.R. 1995. The romance of leadership as a follower-centric theory: A social constructionist approach.

Leadership Quarterly, 6, 329-341.

Miller, D., Steier, L., & Le Breton-Miller, I. 2003. Lost in time: Intergenerational succession, change and failure in

family. Journal of Business Venturing, 18, 513-53.

Mitchell, F., Nielsen, L.B., Nørreklit, A., & Nørreklit, L. 2013. Scoring strategic performance: a pragmatic

constructivist approach to strategic performance measurement. Journal of Management and Governance,

(1): 5-34.

Nor-Aziah A., & Scapens R.W., 2007. Corporatisation and Accounting Change: The Role of Accounting and

Accountants in a Malaysian Public Utility. Management Accounting Research, 18, 209–247.

Nørreklit, H., Nørreklit, L., & Mitchell, F. 2007. Theoretical conditions for validity in accounting performance

measurement, in Neely, A. (Ed.), Business Performance Measurement – Frameworks and Methodologies,

Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 179-217.

Nørreklit, H., Nørreklit, L. & Mitchell, F. 2010. Towards a paradigmatic foundation for accounting practice,

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 23, 6, 733-758.

Nørreklit, L., Nørreklit, H. & Israelsen, P. 2006. Validity of management control topoi – towards a constructivist

pragmatism. Management Accounting Research, 17, 1, 42-71.

Salvato, C., & Corbetta, G. 2013. Transitional Leadership of Advisors as a Facilitator of Successors’ Leadership

Construction. Family Business Review, 26, 3, 235–255.

Salvato, C., & Moores, K. 2010. Research on accounting in family firms: Past accomplishments and future challenges.

Family Business Review, 23, 193-215.

Sardeshmukh, S.R., & Corbett, A.C. 2011. The duality of internal and external development of successors: Opportunity

recognition in family firms. Family Business Review, 24, 111-125.

Scapens, R.W. 2004, Doing case study research”. In The real life guide to accounting research, Christopher, E. and

Lee, B. (Ed). Elsevier Lrd, Oxford, UK.

Seal, W. 2012. Some proposals for impactful management control research. Qualitative Research in Accounting &

Management, 9(3): 228-244.

Shachar, R., & Eckstein, Z. (2007). Correcting for bias in retrospective data. Journal of Applied Econometrics, 22, 657

– 675.

Sharma, P., Chrisman, J.J., Pablo, A.L., & Chua, J.H. 2001. Determinants of initial satisfaction with the succession

process in family firms: A conceptual model. Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 25(3), 17–35.

Smircich, L., & Morgan, G. 1982. Leadership: The management of meaning. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science,

, 257-273.

Songini, L., Gnan, L., & Malmi, T. 2013. The role and impact of accounting in family business. Journal of Family

Business Strategy, 4, 2, 71– 83.

Sorenson, R.L. 2000. The contribution of leadership style and practices to family and business success. Family

Business Review, 13, 183-200.

Stewart, A., Hitt, M.A. 2012. Why can’t a family business be more like a nonfamily business? Modes of

professionalization in family firms. Family Business Review, 25, 58-86.

Uhl-Bien, M. 2006. Relational leadership theory: Exploring the social processes of leadership and organizing. The

Leadership Quarterly, 17, 654-676.

Venter, E., Boshoff, C., & Maas, G. (2005). The influence of successor-related factors on the succession process in

small and medium-sized family businesses. Family Business Review, 18, 283-303.

Vine, B., Holmes, J., Marra, M., Pfeifer, D., & Jackson, B. 2008. Exploring coleadership talk through interactional

sociolinguistics. Leadership, 4, 339-360.

Walsham, G. 2006. Doing interpretative research. European Journal of Information Systems, 5, 320-330.

Ward, J.L. 1987. Keeping the Family Business Healthy. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA.

Yin, R. 2003. Case Study Research: Design and methods. London: Sage Publications.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

This website uses cookies to allow us to see how the site is used. The cookies cannot identify you or any content at your own computer.

Online ISSN: 2246-2821
Hosted by The State and University Library - Aarhus