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In this article we theorize and conceptualize the recent convergence of management accounting (MA) and financial accounting (FA) with the advancements in information technology (IT), and explicate not only how this convergence is manifested in the technical and technological domain, but also howit is reflected in their convergence at the behavioral and organizational level. Drawing on the analytical model by Hemmer and Labro (2008), in which the forward-looking perspective of FA leads to forward-looking MA, we build a conceptual framing to analyze this convergence. According to this framing, information technology (IT) serves as a facilitator, catalyst, motivator, or even an enabler for the convergence of MA and FA. We further argue that convergence is a much broader than claimed by Hemmer and Labro. It firstly covers the technical and technological domain, including the intentional integration of information systems and software, aswell as the intentional combination of methods or standards, extending thereafter to the behavioral and organizational domainwith the (un)intentional alignment regarding both functions and processes as well as the (un)intentional convergence regarding both work and roles. The applicability of this conceptual framing is illustrated with a set of examples. We present illustrations of the manifestations and outcomes of convergence in both the technical and technological domain (related to accounting standards, discretionary reporting, performance measurement, transfer pricing, competitor, customer and contractor analysis, due diligence in M&As), and the behavioral and organizational manifestation domain (related to accounting processes, work and the role of accountants, incentive systems, accounting and control in multinational companies, the control of business networks, the board of directors and venture capitalists). Based on our observations, we conclude that the forward-looking FA elements are often intertwined with MA, and vice versa, and that convergence in the technical and technological domain appears to precede convergence in the behavioral and organizational domain. In most of our observations, IT plays an important or even crucial role in this convergence process. In the light of these convergence observations, we open several avenues for further research.
Accounting and its major fields, MA and FA, are undergoing major changes, one of which seems to be a shift towards the convergence of MA and FA, the focus of this paper. The ultimate purpose of MA and FA is the same. This includes evaluation of past performance for informative and accountability purposes, and plans for the future to make rational capital allocation decisions. The recent trend shift of MA from history-based short-term planning and control to future-oriented strategic planning and control, and FA from historical cost accounting for stewardship purposes to fair value accounting for valuation purposes and decision making, as well as increased transparency for broader stewardship have planted the seeds for the convergence between MA and FA. Why convergence was not a clear direction earlier can be explained by the previous lack of a key element, i.e. information technology that could facilitate, catalyze, motivate, or even enable the convergence first in the technical and technological domain and later in the behavioral and organizational domain. Our conceptual framing bridges the gap between the concepts of MA and FA within a setting of advances in IT, explaining the manifestations and outcomes of convergence within these domains (cf. Llewellyn, 2003). Based on our analysis, the convergence of MA and FA in the technical and technological domain appears to precede convergence in the behavioral and organizational domain (see Hartmann and Vaassen, 2003). The manifestations and outcomes of the convergence presented in this paper indicate that IT has had a dominant role as the facilitator of this process. While the integration of information systems has extensively been adopted by companies, a general trend of convergence has become more obvious due to the increasingly advanced technological platforms.