Management Accounting Change in Family Firms: The Ambivalent Role of the Successor

Annalisa Sentuti, Francesca Maria Cesaroni


Why does a process of management accounting change (MAC) that started with the best premises for a successful conclusion stop? What could be the causes of failure? In the last few decades, several authors have tried to answer these questions in the field of MAC by adopting different theoretical frameworks and offering various responses. However, few contributions have dealt with this theme from the family’s perspective, and they haven’t considered the specific challenges concerning such firms, like those connected to the succession process.

However, few contributions have dealt with this theme from the perspective of family and considering their specific characteristics and challenges, as in particular the succession process. To fill this gap, this paper explores the relationship between MAC and the succession process aiming to answer the question: “How can a successor influence the start, development and final outcome of a MAC process in a family business?” Using a longitudinal case study, the paper explores an Italian family firm in which a MAC and a succession process started simultaneously. However, despite all the best premises for its development and implementation, the MAC process was interrupted. The analysis focuses on the successor and his goals and motivations to better understand which role he assumed in the MAC process. Findings suggest that a successor can play an ambivalent role. He can be a key agent in promoting and triggering a MAC process in family firms, but he can also become a major obstacle to the process of change when his personal objectives and interests prevail over the company’s needs.

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Journal of Management and Strategy
ISSN 1923-3965 (Print)   ISSN 1923-3973 (Online)


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