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Cost Management in Sri Lanka: A Case Study on Volume, Activity and Time as Cost Drivers


  • Ratnatunga, Janek
  • Tse, Michael S.C.
  • Balachandran, Kashi R.


Despite its theoretical superiority, the activity-based costing (ABC) model has had only moderate success in replacing the traditional volume-based absorption costing models in complex organizations worldwide. Even in organizations that have launched ABC projects, the implementations often do not sustain. In response to this general lack of enthusiasm worldwide for ABC, accountants developed the time-driven activity-based costing (TDABC) model as an alternative cost allocation model. This paper presents a comparison of the TDABC model with ABC, and considers if this alternative cost allocation model (1) is easier to implement from an international perspective and (2) provides comparable cost information for decision making. We use a case study in a country outside the model's country of origin to understand the similarities and differences in absorption costing systems that use ‘volume,’ ‘activities,’ and ‘time’ as the drivers of indirect cost allocations. We also use the case study to ascertain if any country‐specific factors impede ABC implementation. We conclude the following: the TDABC model has similar implementation complexities to ABC if modelling conditions are strictly adhered to; these complexities are independent of country‐specific factors; and in its simplest form, the model generates the same decision information errors of traditional costing.

Suggested Citation

  • Ratnatunga, Janek & Tse, Michael S.C. & Balachandran, Kashi R., 2012. "Cost Management in Sri Lanka: A Case Study on Volume, Activity and Time as Cost Drivers," The International Journal of Accounting, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 281-301.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:accoun:v:47:y:2012:i:3:p:281-301
    DOI: 10.1016/j.intacc.2012.07.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Williams, John J. & Seaman, Alfred E., 2001. "Predicting change in management accounting systems: national culture and industry effects," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 26(4-5), pages 443-460.
    2. 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.
    3. O'Connor, Neale G. & Deng, Johnny & Luo, Yadong, 2006. "Political constraints, organization design and performance measurement in China's state-owned enterprises," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 157-177, February.
    4. S. Hoozee & W. Bruggeman, 2010. "Identifying operational improvements during the design process of a time-driven ABC system: The role of collective worker participation and leadership style," Post-Print hal-00679954, HAL.
    5. Sprinkle, Geoffrey B., 2003. "Perspectives on experimental research in managerial accounting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 28(2-3), pages 287-318.
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    Cited by:

    1. Zheng-Yun Zhuang & Shu-Chin Chang, 2017. "Deciding product mix based on time-driven activity-based costing by mixed integer programming," Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing, Springer, vol. 28(4), pages 959-974, April.
    2. Wouters, Marc & Stecher, Julia, 2017. "Development of real-time product cost measurement: A case study in a medium-sized manufacturing company," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 183(PA), pages 235-244.

    More about this item


    Cost management; Activity-based costing; TDABC; Time-driven activity-based costing;

    JEL classification:

    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting


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