Doctoral thesis

The impact of an Integrated Financial System implementation on accountant profiles in a public administration: an empirical study

Defense date2012-05-24

The aim of my research is to study the impact of an Integrated Financial System (ERP System) implementation on accountant profiles in a Swiss public administration. ERP Systems are widely researched by authors and are described like a change driver. Conversely, the kind of changes and, more specifically, the consequences on accountants' profiles are not studied and are, therefore, the core of my research. This research was conducted in two phases. The first phase was an exploratory research and used a qualitative method through a detailed case study. Furthermore, an ethnographic approach was applied. This particular methodology aimed to study perceptions of changes in accountants' profiles of various staff members (from among different functions and departments) involved in the ERP project in order to produce new hypothesis. The collection of perceptions from a diverse sample of government employees and the very open-ended questionnaire (with a wide freedom given to the respondents during the interviews) was what I called an ethnographic approach. This approach is well suited for situations facing deep structural changes such as the transformation of a profession. This case study mainly focused on the changes of the accounting profiles due to an ERP implementation but organizational issues were also studied. The main finding of the case study concerned accountants' educational backgrounds. In the public administration that I studied, accountants tended overall to lack the specialized knowledge necessary to work with the complex tools in an Integrated Financial System. I also confirmed other authors' findings, that the necessary skill sets change when an Integrated Financial System is implemented. Actually, I found that job descriptions were not updated after the implementation as much as we expected they would be. Thus, the case study pointed out 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. Concerning organizational changes, research findings and analyses indicate that the reporting lines are maintained within each administration department and not centralized under the finance department. Due to this organization issue the full potential of the ERP is not exploited at all and this phenomenon has negatively impacted the necessary standardization imposed by an ERP system implementation. However, the financial statements can now comply with international standards such as International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) and I clearly pointed out a professionalization and modernization of financial statements establishment in the public administration under review. Consequently, the case study shows that an ERP implementation project in the public sector is impacted by organizational issues and management styles.

Citation (ISO format)
EQUEY BALZLI, Catherine Josiane. The impact of an Integrated Financial System implementation on accountant profiles in a public administration: an empirical study. 2012. doi: 10.13097/archive-ouverte/unige:27709
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Creation05/06/2013 5:11:00 PM
First validation05/06/2013 5:11:00 PM
Update time03/14/2023 8:10:03 PM
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