Understanding management accounting techniques in the context of organizational change: as strategic business partners with a responsibility to improve operations, management accountants must identify techniques that support incremental change and help transform their firm. By Joseph, George
Publication: Management Accounting Quarterly
Date: Monday, March 12 2007
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Driven by the need for organizational change, management accounting techniques have developed and proliferated at an unprecedented rate in the last few decades. Some critics, however, have charged that the changes are a "reinvention of the wheel" every few years. To put these issues in perspective, let's look at a framework created to illustrate the distinctive nature of these techniques in an organizational change context. The framework considers such factors as user resistance and organizational culture that can influence the applicability and implementation success of the techniques. After tracing the history of management accounting beginning in 1850, accounting scholar Robert S. Kaplan comments, "Despite considerable change in the nature of organizations and the dimensions of competition during the past 60 years, there has been little innovation in the design and implementation of cost accounting and management control systems." (1) All the practices employed by companies and described in management accounting textbooks had apparently been developed by 1925, despite major changes in the nature and operations of organizations. To develop the field of managerial accounting, Kaplan and others encouraged academics to conduct field research and case studies "to describe and document the innovative practices that seem to work for successful companies." (2) The pendulum swung in the other direction over the next decade as a plethora of new "techniques" in the management accounting area, for example, activity-based costing (ABC), Just-in-Time (JIT), and...
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