4. Method
4.1. Sampling and Data Collection
The study population consists of 178 Saudi public companies from twenty sectors which are listed at Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) by the end of 2016. As the strategic nature of this study topic, the criteria for inclusion in the study sample were that the company had to have a well-established accounting department, use financial and non-financial measures, and should have conducted its business operation at least five years ago. The researcher, with the help of three academic staff members, contacted all these listed companies by telephone to identify those companies which meet the criteria set out in the study and asked for their participation. The total number of companies included was 154 out of 178. For those who agreed to participate, an appointment at the company’s premises was made. Overall, 124 companies participated, providing a response rate of 80.5 percent.
With regard to the sample unit of analysis, higher-level accounting managers were selected as key-information providers. Those managers are more likely to have the most suitable information for the current study, since they are more likely to have a comprehensive overview of the strategic issues across the whole company. Data on SMA practices (facets) and perceptual organizational performance were collected by a structured questionnaire. It was developed on the basis of an extensive literature review about the study subject. To explain any unclear questionnaire’s items and increase the response rate, the survey questionnaire was personally handed to all respondents by the help of three academic staff members. This was followed by a period of one month to follow up the respondents and to collect all the responses. The study sample consists of 75% male and 25% female respondents with an average age of about 38 years. 93% are holding a bachelor degree or above, and have an average total experience in the accounting positions of about 9 years. Managers from all different sectors listed in Saudi Stock Exchange are represented in the sample. Most respondents (93%) work for large companies that employ more than 1000 employees, only 7% stem from medium-sized companies with less than 1000 employees. The average age of all companies participated in survey is about 19 years.
4.2. Measures
4.2.1. Independent variables
As mentioned before, prior work used two main practices or facets to conceptualize SMA: (1) the adoption of SMA tools and techniques (2) the accountants' involvement in the strategic decision making process (Cadez and Guilding, 200. Other SMA practices drawn from previous literature still need further investigation, and are proposed to lend some support for SMA-performance linkage. In order to assess all these practices, the researcher of the current study employed the following five facets (as independent variables):
1- The active participation of management accountants in the strategic decision-making process (3 items).
2- The availability of a specialized management accounting unit in the organization structure equipped with necessary abilities, expertise and experiences (5 items).
3- The adoption and use of strategic management accounting techniques and tools (2 items)
4- The availability of effective management accounting information systems based on modern technology applications (3 items).
5- Adequate support and encouragement from the top management for practicing SMA (4 items).
These 17 items broadly represent the main facets of practicing management accounting based on the strategic approach identified in prior literature and work. In the present study, participants were asked to indicate the extent to which their companies having these five SMA practices. Each of these practices is based on questionnaire items answered on Likert scales ranging from 1, "strongly disagree" to 5, “strongly agree". To uncover the underlying dimensions of the 17-item study questionnaire, the principal component analysis and varimax rotation method was performed. Four factors emerged from this analysis after constructing each scale on a cutoff point of 0.40 or greater with an eigenvalue greater than 1 (Gorsuch, 1974), and no item was removed. Table 1 shows the four factors and their question items.
The naming of each factor in the present study depends on the practices listed under it. The researcher named the first factor “SMA- organizational structure facet”. This factor includes practices that are linked with organizational structure elements such as supportive communication channels, accountant positions, unit and team formulation and synergetic issues. Cronbach’s alpha for this factor (6 items) was .83. In the same vein, the second factor named “SMA-resource facet” (4 items) composes of the most important resources that are needed for effective SMA implementation such as information systems and qualified SMA personnel and teams. Cronbach’s alpha for the second factor was .89. “SMA-information facet” as the third factor includes the adoption of SMA techniques, tools and analyses, and the information orientation and its usages. Cronbach’s alpha for this factor (3 items) was .78. The practices of the last factor named “SMA-organizational climate facet” are related to the prevailing organizational climate such as senior management support, positive attitudes and credibility, and a supportive organizational culture in order to embed the strategic approach of management accounting in the organization’s system. Cronbach’s alpha for this factor (4 items) was .81.


Table 1
Factor structure of SMA practices’ indicators
Questionnaire Item 1 2 3 4 Alpha
SMA- organizational structure facet .83
The company provides formal and/or informal advisory channels for management accounting managers to participate in the strategic decision-making process. .54
Management accounting managers have senior management positions in the company. .57
Management accounting managers are considered strategic partners in the company management team. .67
There is a specialized management accounting unit in the company structure for managing management accounting activities and processes. .55
The management accounting unit in the company works in an integrated manner with other functional units to achieve a high degree of synergy. .59
The company formulates a cross-functional team composed of different functional areas in the company for strategic purposes. .51
SMA-resource facet .89
The company has the appropriate abilities, expertise and experiences needed for implementing SMA. .55
Members of cross-functional teams in the company have adequate skills to identify, utilize, evaluate and interpret information effectively and efficiently. .56
The company provides an effective management accounting information system. .54
The management accounting information system in the company is based on modern technology applications. .64
SMA-information facet .78
Management accounting information is used as a fundamental input in formulating, implementing and evaluating the strategies of the company. .56
The company adopts and uses external and market- oriented management accounting techniques with a strategic focus. .58
In the company, competitors, customers and product-related information are used in the strategic decision-making process. .61
SMA-organizational climate facet .81
Senior management in the company provides an adequate support and encouragement for practicing management accounting from a strategic perspective. .58
Senior management in the company has positive attitudes toward the strategic role of management accountants. .67
The company has a supportive organizational culture for practicing management accounting based on a strategic approach. .52
Management accounting managers are in a position of credibility for senior management in the company. .55
Eigenvalue 2.67 3.09 1.98 2.07
Proportion of variance explained 25.3 21.86 28.8 19.5