The impact of an integrated financial system implementation on accounting profiles in a public administration : an ethnographic approach

Equey Balzli, Catherine ; Morard, Bernard

In: Journal of accounting & organizational change

Purpose – This paper’s aim is to study the impact of an Integrated Financial System implementation on Accountant profiles in a Swiss public administration. We observe the following variables: Accountants’ skills, Accountants’ functions, and Accountants’ educational backgrounds. Each variable was studied before and after the implementation. Design/methodology/approach – Our study is an... Mehr

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    Summary
    Purpose – This paper’s aim is to study the impact of an Integrated Financial System implementation on Accountant profiles in a Swiss public administration. We observe the following variables: Accountants’ skills, Accountants’ functions, and Accountants’ educational backgrounds. Each variable was studied before and after the implementation. Design/methodology/approach – Our study is an empirical research based on a case study using interviews. We designed a questionnaire that we discussed with participants in order to determine how they perceive Accountants’ job profiles. Findings – Our main finding concerned Accountants’ educational backgrounds. In the public administration that we studied, Accountants tended overall to lack the specialized knowledge necessary to work with the complex tools in an Integrated Financial System. We also confirmed other authors’ findings, that the necessary skill sets change when an Integrated Financial System is implemented. Actually, we found that job descriptions did not change after the implementation as much as we expected they would. Research limitations/implications – Our findings are based only on participants’ perceptions, because documentation was difficult to obtain. Our small sample size also did not allow for generalizable results. Practical implications – Public administrations must carefully determine the skills necessary for the accounting staff to work within an Integrated Financial System. Job descriptions must be adapted and prospective new hires should have higher qualifications as well as better accounting and ERP knowledge. Originality/value – Our research was conducted using an ethnographic approach that compared and analysed perceptions from a diverse sample of government employees. Our sample population was chosen from among different departments and functions.