Describe the ‘Challenge of Management Accounting Change’ in light of recent research findings and discuss, how can this change help an organisation, in getting its strategic, tactical and operating objectives? Management accounting change and the continuously changing roles of management accountants have dominated accounting literature for the past few decades and the theme of management accounting change procedures has been a topical issue of many studies such as Baines and Langfield-Smith, 2003; Kapla, 1985 and Granlund and Lukka, 1998, just to name a few. In order to understand the relationship between a firm's strategy and objectives with its management accounting systems, it is necessary to first define the latter. The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) define Management Accounting as "the process of identification, measurement, accumulation, analysis, preparation, interpretation and communication of information used by management to plan, evaluate and control within an entity and to assure appropriate use of and accountability for its resources. Management accounting also comprises the preparation of financial reports for non-management groups such as shareholders, creditors, regulatory agencies and tax authorities." It is important to explore the extent to which management and strategic concerns are driven by accounting practices, and also how accounting practices are mediated by the views that managers have of the role of accounting (Burns et. al, 1999). Changes in Management Accounting can be viewed as an inevitable process, and they are also intrinsically interlinked to not only changes in a firms strategy, but also with environmental changes. Both internal and external changes in our economic and business environment are the dominating factors in the change of management accounting practices within organisations. This view that change is inevitable has been supported by Kaplan (1985), where he details the change as a "cause-effect relationship." In short, management accounting systems have to change whenever there is any sort of change in an organisations business or economic environment. Organizational change is frequently a response to environmental change; such as changes in competition, or changes in laws and legislation. So if Management Accounting change occurs due to organizational change, it is important to note the indirect link between environmental change and management accounting change (Burns et. al, 1999). Wijewardena and De Zoysa (1999) support this idea by detailing that the success of an organisations strategy can be determined by how quickly and effectively management accountants can adapt to their systems to ever changing environmental and economic conditions, thereby supporting the link between management accounting practices and the business environment. It is fair to state that there are a number of factors that can influence change in management accounting and these factors are both internal and external. A research project on management accounting change in the UK, that was funded by CIMA and the Economic and Social Research Council was conducted between 1995 and 1998 by Burns et. al (1999). The study aimed to investigate changes in management accounting systems, the changing role of management accountants and the adoption of modern accounting techniques. The study initially sought to settle the claim that management accounting had not changed in more than 60 years (Johnson and Kaplan, 1987). The initial stages of the research found that management accounting practices use traditional accounting systems and modern techniques such as Activity-Based Costing and Strategic Management Accounting were not being used as much as expected. One reason for management accounting changes is the general economic factors such...
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