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An exploration of the factors affecting the diffusion of advanced costing techniques: a comparative analysis of two surveys (1996-2005)

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  • Lino Cinquini

    ()
    (Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa)

  • Paolo Collini

    (University of Trento)

  • Alessandro Marelli

    (Universtiy of Teramo)

  • Andrea Tenucci

    ()
    (Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa)

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    Abstract

    The issue of cost calculation has been largely debated in the last years under the pressure of the perceived lost of relevance of the so called "traditional cost accounting approaches". The enthusiasm for new management accounting techniques has often driven most of attention towards technical or theoretical aspects of the proposed new cost models. In particular, Activity-Based Costing (ABC) implementation literature pinpoints a large number of studies that have looked at technical and organizational/behavioral factors that influence effective implementation. Recently a great attention has been paid by researchers on the contingent factors affecting the adoption of advanced management accounting techniques and the influence of the variables that drive towards higher levels of cost system sophistication. The need is felt for insightful studies regarding processes and contingent variables working through time in relation with these changes. Improved analysis can be obtained by undertaking replication studies based on larger number of responses and/or across geographic and cultural borders. Whitin the boundaries of a contingent framework analysis, this paper has provided additional insights into areas relating to factors influencing the level of sophistication of product cost systems in Italy. The paper presents the comparison of two survey results carried on in a ten years distance on the same sample of Italian largest companies. These two long-distance surveys provide the opportunity to assess the changes occurred in the companies that in 1996 declared the adoption of (or the interest in adopting) ABC and Target costing (Cinquini et al., 1999).Moreover, the time elapsed could allow the perception about adopters’ behavior, along different stages of the diffusion process of advanced costing techniques. The research findings pinpoint that only “importance of cost information” and “cost structure”, among the contextual variables considered in the more recent survey responses, are positive and significant in relation with increasing in implementation of advanced costing techniques. This outcome could open to further studies to assess whether or not adopters are moving from a “fad and fashion” behavior of the early stages, to a more rational approach in which the matching between management needs and tools potentiality is maximized.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa, Istituto di Management in its series Working Papers with number 200801.

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    Length: 17 pages
    Date of creation: 28 Apr 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:sse:wpaper:200801

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    Keywords: Management accounting innovations; Activity-Based Costing; Target costing; Product costing design; Cost system sophistication; Contingent factors;

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    1. Chenhall, R. H. & Langfield-Smith, K., 1998. "The relationship between strategic priorities, management techniques and management accounting: an empirical investigation using a systems approach," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 243-264, April.
    2. Malmi, Teemu, 1999. "Activity-based costing diffusion across organizations: an exploratory empirical analysis of Finnish firms," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 24(8), pages 649-672, November.
    3. John Brierley & Christopher Cowton & Colin Drury, 2001. "Research into product costing practice: a European perspective," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 215-256.
    4. Colin Drury & Mike Tayles, 1994. "Product costing in UK manufacturing organizations," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(3), pages 443-470.
    5. Anderson, Shannon W. & Hesford, James W. & Young, S. Mark, 2002. "Factors influencing the performance of activity based costing teams: a field study of ABC model development time in the automobile industry," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 195-211, April.
    6. Gerdin, Jonas & Greve, Jan, 2004. "Forms of contingency fit in management accounting research--a critical review," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 29(3-4), pages 303-326.
    7. Luft, Joan & Shields, Michael D., 2003. "Erratum to "Mapping management accounting: graphics and guidelines for theory-consistent empirical research" [Accounting Organizations and Society 28 (2003) 169-249]," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 28(7-8), pages 815-815.
    8. Gosselin, Maurice, 1997. "The effect of strategy and organizational structure on the adoption and implementation of activity-based costing," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 105-122, February.
    9. Luft, Joan & Shields, Michael D., 2003. "Mapping management accounting: graphics and guidelines for theory-consistent empirical research," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 28(2-3), pages 169-249.
    10. Chenhall, Robert H., 2003. "Management control systems design within its organizational context: findings from contingency-based research and directions for the future," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 28(2-3), pages 127-168.
    11. Kari Lukka & Markus Granlund, 1996. "Cost accounting in Finland: current practice and trends of development," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(1), pages 1-28.
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