Reinventing the finance function

Submissions open January 2024


Contemporary trends and global developments increasingly challenge the tasks, design and role of the finance function in organizations. Legal and social pressures require organizations to improve sustainability accounting and performance; geopolitical tensions show how business practices’ focus on efficiency require adjustments, as they carry substantial risks in moments of unexpected disruptions and, in the course of the digital transformation, new business models are emerging, requiring reorganizations of business processes. While these examples are not exhaustive, they illustrate that fundamental shifts in business practices and organizational set-ups are taking place.

Given these developments, this call for papers invites investigations on the finance function’s position and potential reinvention in times of change and disruption. As a backbone of organizations, finance functions have traditionally assumed responsibility for financial reporting, risk management, compliance, management accounting and control. Moving beyond these activities, finance functions increasingly aspire to become “strategic partners” of the top management team, being heavily involved in strategic initiatives (Chang et al., 2014). Consequently, in many organizations, finance has evolved into a function that not only measures and reports but also drives performance (Verbeeten and Heinen, 2021). 

However, although contemporary developments may open up new opportunities for the finance function, they might also undermine its traditional position in organizations. While prior work has primarily focused on the various roles of finance professionals (e.g., Fourné et al., 2023; Goretzki and Messner, 2019), the current developments raise questions about their relationships with other professions and domains in organizations. Trends in the areas of sustainability and digitalization have already given rise to new organizational actors, which increasingly shape how problems are defined and solutions are developed (cf. Abbott, 1988). For instance, finance professionals’ involvement in sustainability initiatives is reported to be limited (Ascani et al., 2021; Ballou et al., 2012). Similarly, they sometimes fail to develop new management practices that go beyond traditional approaches (Tillema et al., 2022). Finally, while digital technologies imply considerable potential for its involvement, finance is often a latecomer in processes of digital transformation (Firk et al., 2023). These findings raise the question of what the future of the finance function will be in the context of current shifts and disruptions. 

These concerns call for a reorientation of research into the activities and inner workings of the finance function and its interactions and relationships with other professional groups within organizations. This special issue thus aims to explore the opportunities and threats for the finance function emerging from recent developments outside and within organizations and to analyze their implications for its practice and positioning. 

List of topic areas

Topics suggested for the Special Issue include, but are not limited to: 

  • The influence of current developments in areas, such as sustainability, governance, risk management, digitalisation and moral dilemmas, on the roles and identities of finance professionals (e.g. management accountants and CFOs) in organizations. 

  • The implications of such developments for the orientation of the finance function (e.g. a shift from efficiency to resilience), and its (re)design (e.g. centralisation, specialization, reporting lines, independence). 

  • The influence of flexible and adaptive management ideas and fashions (e.g. beyond budgeting, agile accounting) on the finance function.  

  • Collaboration and competition between finance and other professionals in organizations in emerging or changing domains. 

  • The strategies to cope with inconsistencies between traditional practices of the finance function and new social and environmental responsibilities of organizations. 

  • The impact of the growing complexity of accountability demands in the public sector on the finance function. 

  • Changing relationships between finance and healthcare professionals due to increasing demands for healthcare services. 

  • The ways in which emerging topics are embedded in educational programmes for finance professionals (e.g. curricula, framing of programmes) and how these changes are perceived by (prospective) students and employers. 

Submissions information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Author guidelines must be strictly followed.

Submit via ScholarOne

Author Guidelines

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to “Please select the issue you are submitting to”

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

Key deadlines

Opening date for submissions: January 2024

Submissions close: 31st October 2024


Abbott, A. (1988), The Systems of Professions: An Essay on the Division of Expert Labor. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. 

Ascani, I., Ciccola R. and Chiucchi, M.S. (2021), “A structured literature review about the role of management accountants in sustainability accounting and reporting”, Sustainability, Vol. 13 No. 4, 2357. 

Ballou, B., Casey, R.J., Grenier, J.H. and Heitger, D.L. (2012), “Exploring the strategic integration of sustainability initiatives: Opportunities for accounting research”, Accounting Horizons, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 265-288. 

Chang, H., Ittner, C.D. and Paz, M.T. (2014), “The multiple roles of the finance organization: Determinants, effectiveness, and the moderating influence of information system integration”, Journal of Management Accounting Research, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 1-32. 

Firk, S., Gehrke, Y. and Wolff, M. (2023), “Digital anxiety in the finance function: Consequences and mitigating factors”, Journal of Management Accounting Research, in press. 

Fourné, S.P.L., Guessow, D., Margolin, M. and Schäffer, U. (2023), “Controllers and strategic decision-making: The role of cognitive flexibility in controller-manager collaboration”, Management Accounting Research, Vol. 60, 100840. 

Goretzki, L. and Messner, M. (2019), “Backstage and frontstage interactions in management accountants’ identity work”, Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 74, pp. 1-20. 

Tillema, S., Trapp, R., and van Veen‐Dirks, P. (2022), “Business Partnering in Risk Management: A Resilience Perspective on Management Accountants' Responses to a Role Change”, Contemporary Accounting Research, Vol. 39 No 3, pp. 2058-2089. 

Verbeeten, F. and Heinen, J. (2021), “Managing digital transformation”, Strategic Finance, February 2021.