Controller involvement in a project management setting: Effects on project functions and performance

Ricardo Malagueño, Jacobo Gomez-Conde, Yannick de Harlez, Olaf Hoffmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The authors examine the extent to which a controller's involvement in project functions (namely definition and scope, organization, constraints management and risk management) cascades down to project performance. 

Design/methodology/approach: The authors test the study’s framework using survey data from a sample of project leaders in German and Swiss firms. Responses were analyzed using the partial least squares (PLS) technique. 

Findings: The authors find that controllers contribute to project success via the previously described project functions. Further, the study reveals the crucial role of controllers in managing uncertainty and project risks. 

Research limitations/implications: Although the arguments used in this research were not country specific and suggest that the findings of this study also apply to the controller professional in general, this study clearly acknowledges that further research is needed to address the effects of this role in different jurisdictions given the specific characteristics of controllers acting in German-speaking countries. 

Practical implications: The authors provide insights on the role of controllers at an operational level, like project management, highlighting the need for controllers to support an effective project governance. 

Originality/value: The authors add to the literature by examining the role of controllers in highly knowledge-intensive, highly pressured, task-driven, interdependent and dynamic operational settings, thus contributing to a better understanding of how controllers function at an operational level. The authors also strengthen a broader role of controllers in project management that goes beyond their historical controlling activities to include more modern functions, extending previous studies analyzing their professional identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-364
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Applied Accounting Research
Issue number2
Early online date5 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2021


  • Project management
  • cross-functional teams
  • controllers
  • management accountants
  • project functions
  • project performance

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