In recent years, the role of the controller has changed rather significantly. When a profession is affected by new beliefs and principles for its work, its traditional social identity is challenged. The purpose of this paper is to analyse how to be a controller in the new context and hence the emergence of a new social identity of the controller. For our analysis, we have chosen Bjarte Bogsnes (controller at Statoil) as he presents himself as a change agent in the book Implementing Beyond Budgeting. By undertaking a discourse analysis of the BB book, we uncover a self-narrative genre that positions the controller as an important character in a rather dramatic change process. We find that Bogsnes constructs himself in opposition to a mechanical management approach. As an alternative he advocates a more dialectic perception of doing business and a more reflective and action-oriented controller. Drawing on a more complex language with less mechanical management features but more dramatic, reflective and emotional discourse elements, BB is constructed as a management model that aims to balance the dialectical forces of competitive strategy versus the front-line manager and opportunistic versus responsible behaviour through human interaction. Overall, BB seems to draw on an individualized and practice oriented paradigm.
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7th Conference on New Directions in Management Accounting (EIASM), 2010