Investment Centers and Transfer Pricing
ANSWERS TO REVIEW QUESTIONS
Goal congruence means a meshing of objectives, in which the managers throughout an organization strive to achieve goals that are consistent with the goals set by top management. Goal congruence is important for organizational success because managers often are unaware of the effects of their decisions on the organization's other subunits. Also, it is natural for people to be more concerned with the performance of their own subunit than with the effectiveness of the entire organization. In order for the organization to be effective, it is important that everyone in it be striving for the same ultimate objectives.
The managerial accountant's primary objective in designing a responsibility-accounting system is to provide incentives for the organization's subunit managers to strive toward achieving the organization's goals.
Under the management-by-objectives (MBO) philosophy, managers participate in setting goals that they then strive to achieve. These goals may be expressed in financial or other quantitative terms, and the responsibility-accounting system is used to evaluate performance in achieving them. The MBO approach is consistent with an emphasis on obtaining goal congruence throughout an organization.
An investment center is a responsibility-accounting center, the manager of which is held accountable not only for the investment center's profit but also for the capital invested to earn that profit. Examples of investment centers include a division of a manufacturing company, a large geographical territory of a hotel chain, and a geographical territory consisting of several stores in a retail company.
A division's ROI can be improved by improving the sales margin, by improving the capital turnover, or by some combination of the two. The manager of the automobile division of an insurance company could improve the sales margin by increasing the profit margin on each insurance policy sold. As a result, every sales dollar would generate more income. The capital turnover could be improved by increasing sales of insurance policies while keeping invested capital fixed, or by decreasing the invested assets required to generate the same sales revenue.
Example of the calculation of residual income: Suppose an investment center's profit is $100,000, invested capital is $800,000, and the imputed interest rate is 12 percent:
Residual income = $100,000 ( ($800,000) (12%) = $4,000
The imputed interest rate is used in calculating residual income, but it is not used in computing ROI. The imputed interest rate reflects the firm's minimum required rate of return on invested capital.
The chief disadvantage of ROI is that for an investment that earns a rate of return greater than the company's cost of raising capital, the manager in charge of deciding about that investment may have an incentive to reject it if the investment would result in reducing the manager's ROI. The residual-income measure eliminates this disadvantage by including in the residual-income calculation the imputed interest rate, which reflects the firm's cost of capital. Any project that earns a return greater than the imputed interest rate will show a positive residual income.
The rise in ROI or residual income across time results from the fact that periodic depreciation charges reduce the book value of the asset, which is generally used in determining the investment base to use in the ROI or residual-income calculation. This phenomenon can have a serious effect on the incentives of investment-center managers. Investment centers with old assets will show higher ROIs than investment centers with relatively new assets. This result can discourage investment-center managers from investing in new equipment. If this behavioral tendency persists for a long time,...
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