The purpose of this research is to explore how professional accountants and SMEs owners experience the ‘emergent roles’ of the professional accountant within South African SMEs. A qualitative research approach within an interpretivist paradigm was therefore employed. To address the research question, the interpretivist design was executed using a thematic analysis of data collected through semi-structured interviews with 20 professional accountants and 20 SMEs owners. The study revealed mismatched expectations concerning the value and role expectations of the professional accountant rendering ‘emergent roles’ within South African SMEs. Expectation gap issues were further uncovered through divergent role expectations. Regulators need to understand that the role of the professional accountant within the SMEs environment is still predominately driven from the need for statutory traditional compliance roles. Caution needs to be exercised by professional regulators when expecting professional accountants to render emergent services to SMEs. Relatively little attention has been given to the role of the accountant in the SMEs environment. This study is original and pioneers within the SMEs environment where the role of the professional accountant is often unexplored. Strategies are offered from a developing economy perspective for SMEs owners, professional accountants, and stakeholders within the accountancy profession to position the role of the professional accountant within the SMEs environment.
Published Date: 2021-07-23; Received Date: 2021-06-02