Modern Management Accounting and the extent to which it shapes


Over the last two decades, management accounting developed as a practical aid to business managers and as a subject for academic teaching and research (Robert W.S, 1993). Management accounting is stated as "The process of identifying, measuring and communicating economic information to permit informed judgments and decisions by users of the information" (Drury, 2009:3). Management accounting plays a very important role, where in which it gives the manager sufficient time and relevant information and set targets, monitor performance and systematically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the organizations to meet its objectives consistently and add value by creating operations and process within the organization (Prit, 2009).

As far as the History of Management Accounting goes, developments since 1975 have been recognized that information and reporting system have effect on individuals (Robert S. Kaplan, 1982). Although the management accounting is dated back to fourteenth century, with principles of financial accounting and bookkeeping, the merchants and small business owners did not practice Management Accounting prior to the industrial revolution. It was only in the nineteenth century when the new accounting methods were developed because entrepreneurs commenced to hire people on a long-term basis, to make capital investments, and introduce more complex production technologies (Brain H. Maskell, 1996).

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With reference to the relevant literature, there have been few recent developments in Management Accounting techniques within manufacturing and service sectors. The practice of modern management accounting is different from Traditional Accounting. The recent developments facilitate managers to make robust decisions to minimize cost and at the same time it adds value to the products and services by improving the quality of products, which is required by the customers and reduce waste ( Prit, 2009).

As the Result of new "Techniques" the Management Accounting Sector took a completely New Turn in the Next decade.

Activity-based-costing (ABC),

Just-in-time (JIT),

Total-quality-management (TQM)

The above listed 3 Techniques were developed to update the Traditional Accounting model so it adequately reflects today's manufacturing environment's needs (Seed, Allen H, 1990).

2) Modern Management Accounting:

2.1: Role of management accounting.

The relation between Accounting and Management can be defined with the statement - "Accounting is a tool of Management". Accounting practice has developed in response to a changing business economy. In view of these changes, effects have been made to clarify, redefine, and seek

acceptance of accounting doctrine and practice (Coleman R W, 1949).

Management accounting systems (MAS) are recognized as it provides a most important source of journal information in organizations, a source of power derived from the possession of that information, and a means of distributing that power and of managing the organizational system (C S Jones, 1995).

The direct impact of organizational change son different role of Management Accounting is difficult to measure. The changing role of Management Accounting becomes evident through the substantiation of management accounting (Loreta Valanciene, Edita Gimzauskiene, 2007).

Paul Weetman (2000) pointed out that the role of Management Accounting consists of,

Direct attention: means providing full information to the specific situations e.g. Where the problem occurs, who creates a loss, etc. In the high competitive market, this role alerts the manager about competitor's information such as their strategy, and new product.

Keeping the score: This role aims to answer the questions: how much and how many. ('How much' implies to those things is related allocation and the share of costs within the whole organisation, and 'How many' refers to the quantity of inputs would be used). In the strategic management, these questions can be extended as how much of the market shares, or how many compared to the competitors.

Solving the problems: The Management Accounting is a good channel for manager to provide the nearest relevant methods for solving the subsisting problems. Due to M/A , the manager can collect all detailed information about the problems such as what caused it, when it starts, and then based on those information, several answers will be provided and the task of manager is to choose the most appropriate one ( Paul Weetman, 2000).

2.2: Comparison of Traditional and Modern management accounting:

During the 1950s and 1960s, accountants gradually discovered that product's cost which was used for financial reporting purposes was considered seriously by operating executives. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Management Accounting thought developed that attempted to subsume the two previous approaches into a boarder conceptual framework (Robert S. Kaplan, 1982).

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Historical and contemporary studies of accounting have shed light on the diverse ways in which accounting has been and is been implicated in a wide range of activities and social arrangements (Hopwood and Miller, 1994).

Accounting can't be understood simply with reference to its theoretical functional properties because it is implicated in the shaping of its own context (Thomas Ahrens, and Christopher S. Chapman, 2007).

What this said, much of the evidence to date suggests that, in practice, traditional Management Accounting techniques remain popular (Dury et al., 1993). However, it appears also that such traditional techniques are being used alongside new and 'advanced' accounting techniques, such as ABC, JIT and TQM (J Burns and J Vaivio, 2001).

Management accounting is used to help managers make solid business decisions (Laura o, 2009). Because of revolution in Management Accounting, both smallest corner store and largest multinational organisation start their own innovation on their accounting perspective (Anonymous, 2004).

Successful organisations adapt to changes in their environment and proactively change their environment. Management accounting should help organisations recognize the need for initiating change and suggest the appropriate response to an environment change (Anthony A. Atkinson, et al 1997).

2.3: Change in Global/ Organisational context and management accounting:

Since 1975 important changes have taken place in the context of political, economic and social settings (Joan Amat, Salvador Carmona and Hanno Roberts, 1994).The Management Accounting faces few challenges over environmental changes as well as internal process within organisations. Therefore, Management Accounting, must response to these changes by adapting new techniques and concepts (Wickramasinghe and Alwattage, 2007).

The Measurement Of Costs: By using the modern management techniques, the value and profitability of information services can be generated (M S Magson, 1973).

The Birth Of "Hybrid" Accountants: As a result of new forms of organisations and requirements of Strategic Management Accounting (SMA). SMA links performance measurement system with corporate vision and strategies (Wickramasinghe and Alwattage, 2007).

Open-Book Accounting: These techniques are important part of outcome control measurement for companies in inter-organisational relationships, which are another result of increased globalization (Hopper, 2007:276).

In discussing the nature of settled habits of thought and action Hodgson, (1993 b) defined habits as more or less self-actualizing dispositions or tendencies to engage in previously adopted or acquired form of action (John Burns and Robert W. Scapens, 2000).

A strategy of change provides a critical appraisal of current ideas about 'organizational culture', 'total quality management', 'flexibility', and 'excellence'. Dealing is an integrated way with the full spectrum of survival in today's changing environment (David C. Wilson, 1992).

3: Management accounting techniques:

3.1: Characteristics of manufacturing and service sectors:

Much of the literature on international business has taken on a manufacturing perspective. The recent literature has paid attention to the internationalization of service firms (Peter, 1999).

Figure 1: The Merging Of Service And Manufacturing Orientations (David E. Bowen And Caren Siehl, 1989:77)

"The figure1 points out the conflict between manufacturing sectors( right box) and the service sectors(left box).These are the outcomes of the methods, in which prototypical services are different from prototypical goods. Moreorless, only a few firms display the whole set of characteristics. The center box displays the orientations of the firm which integrate the characteristics of services and manufacturing" (David et al., 1989).Manufacturing firms, particularly those with diversified product lines, have a good deal, more flexibility and control than extractive investors; they may be able to exercise considerable choice in their response to host country demands (Stephen J, 1987). The continued growth of service sectors in almost all the developing economies has fascinated and occasionally alarmed economists and other observers. Why is the problem more serious in some of the service sectors? Partly it is a data problem, importantly, it is a conceptual one (Zvi G, 1992).Both manufacturing and service company managers need operational control systems that will enhance the cost-improvement, quality-improvement, and process-time reduction activities of their employees (Anthony A. Atkinson; Rajiv D. Banker; Robert S. Kaplan; s. Mark Young, 1997).

3.2Three techniques

Activity Based Costing (ABC)

"Activity - based costing is a method that is projected to provide managers on cost information for strategic and other conclusions that potentially affect the capacity and therefore 'fixed' costs" (Ray et al.2000:322).Benefits related to activity -based costing (ABC) are many. In ABC, the aim is to understand the overhead and profitability of the products and customers (Ray et al, 2000).

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" Management and Cost Accounting originated in the early nineteenth century, which has undergone a steady development further to the first quarter of the twentieth century". The development of ABC as an accounting tool is to keep track of the "environmental shift", basically to maintain the relationship between market development and technological innovation to achieve long term success. There have been attempts made to figure out the development of ABC, like,

Fierce compensation,

Increasing product diversification..

In developing countries, the manufacturing industries started adopting new techniques, to maintain relationship between the market development and technological innovation to archive the long-term success. Seemingly, ABC developed as an accounting technique to provide applicable information for advanced manufacturing firms producing various products in a competitive environment (N. M. Panda, 1999).

Whilst the thoughtfulness, ABC as yet focused on manufacturing firms, ABC can be useful to few service organizations. There are few very disputes among manufacturing and service sectors. Manufacturing firms execute the similar type of activities; however, there is a slight similarity among the activities of an insurance firm, a hospital and law firms. Service sector is less tangible and, harder to define (Glautier and Underdown, 2001).

In developed countries like UK, when the survey of ABC took place for nearly 1000 companies, the result indicated that even after adopting ABC, it has been rejected by a healthy number, and majority of the companies have to still take a decision on its use (John and Mitchell, 1995).

As cost driver and ABC concepts improve the measurement of costs and allocation information for service departments within manufacturing firms, service firms such as accounting/law firm could also use cost driver and ABC concepts (Pirrong, 1993).

3.2.2: Just-In-Time (JIT):

"JIT is a process which is capable of instant response to demand without the need for any overstocking, either in exception of the demand being forthcoming or as a result of inefficiencies in the process" (David Hutchins, 1999). Under certain circumstances of JIT concept, a company maneuvering a JIT system would buy only enough raw materials each day to meet that day's need. (Ray et al, 2000).

JIT manufacturing scheme calls for making a good or service only when the customer, internal or external needs it. JIT manufacturing is simple in theory, however, difficult to practice it. (Anthony et al, 1997)."Keeping everyone busy", is another characteristics of a conventional manufacturing.

(Ray et al, 2000).JIT in manufacturing industries is adopted to improve the quality and reduce waste. Let us consider this with an e.g," JIT in a fast-food restaurant, the restaurant would use racks or bins to hold food ready to be sold to the customer and have employees start another batch or production when the existing inventory falls below a line drawn on the bin or rack. During off peak times the restaurant produce to order. This motivation to adopt JIT is to improve their quality of the food and to reduce waste by eliminating the need to throw out food that has been around for long". There are two significance for Management Accounting, that it has to support the move to "JIT manufacturing over monitoring, identifying, and communicating to decision makers the sources of delay, error, and waste in the system". To measure JIT system's reliability, there are few important factors,

"Defect rates

Cycle times

Percent of time that delivers are on time

Order accuracy

Actual production as a planned production

Actual machine time available compared to planned machine time available."

(Anthony et al, 1997:382).

JIT production process and the manufacturing effectiveness ratio for manufacturing operations, is as applicable to service companies too. Service delivery process is even more important than in manufacturing companies. Eg. In banking industries, for the process of gaining approval for a mortgage on a house that we like to purchase needed 26 days and after applying JIT process they just need 15 min (Kaplan and Norten, 1996).

3.2.3 : Total Quality Management (TQM):

"TQM is the most popular approach to a continuous improvement. Its major characteristics are to focus on serving customers and systematic problem solving team made up of front-line workers". Few thousands of companies have been involved in TQM and similar programs (Ray et al, 2000).

For a business, the major driving force is the element of competition. Competitiveness of suppliers is determined by the quality of its product or services (John & Peter, 1997) .Most of the manufacturing companies adopts TQM, either is to improve the work atmosphere for the employees, or to help improve the profits of a company. "Penril Datacomm is a Maryland designer and producer of data communications equipment. Before TQM the defect rate of the company were high. Applying TQM techniques resulted in an 81% decrease in defects, an 83% decrease in failures and a 73% decrease in first-year warranty repairs" (Ray et al, 2000:19).


The concept and tools of service began with Thomas Peters and Robert Waterman's "In search Of Excellence", to achieve customer satisfaction, service companies such as Disney Corporation and SAS Airlines adopted TQM (Kenneth et al, 2005). TQM in education as a business is difficult to define and measure the quality. Metamorphosing the culture of education system is a slow process, however, with great effect for change for improvement, TQM provides essential model for transition (Edward Sallis, 2002).


Few changes have taken place over the past few decades. These changes in most of the companies are without any plan. It is important for any manufacturing or service sectors, Advanced or Emerging Economies to adopt these Modern Management Accounting techniques.

However, a traditional management accountant "does is irrelevant, wasteful, and potentially harmful to a world class company". There are many new Modern Management Accounting techniques which is used by the modern management accountants, who wish to contribute to a company's world class goals. (Brain, 1996).

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