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Characteristics of target costing: theoretical and field study perspectives

  • Patricia Everaert
  • Stijn Loosveld
  • Tom Van Acker
  • Marijke Schollier
  • Gerrit Sarens
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    Purpose – Despite appearing in the literature over 10 years ago as a potentially exciting cost management technique, there is still limited agreement about the nature of target costing. The purpose of this study is to explore the characteristics of target costing, and to test whether these characteristics were adopted in three European companies that used target costing. Design/methodology/approach – This paper draws on case study data, collected at three manufacturing companies (consumer electronics, machinery, and transportation equipment). Findings – The paper identifies eight characteristics of target costing, based on the early Japanese case descriptions. These characteristics are related to the way a target is set and how progress towards that target is measured. The findings of the case studies confirm these characteristics. However, some differences were found regarding the interpretation of the strict rule that “the target cost cannot be exceeded at product launch”. Research limitations/implications – The results indicate that future research on the adoption of target costing cannot be disconnected from its characteristics. Further studies might investigate whether degree of openness to suppliers, leadership position, time pressure and position in the supply chain can explain the noted differences in characteristics among companies. Practical implications – The characteristics identified in this paper provide an aid to researchers and managers considering target costing. Detailed case descriptions provide best practices examples for other companies. Originality/value – This study is the first empirical paper concerned with describing the typical characteristics of target costing. By exploring the characteristics, we hope to inspire others to further explore this interesting phenomenon.

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    Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 3 (September)
    Pages: 236-263

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    Handle: RePEc:eme:qrampp:v:3:y:2006:i:3:p:236-263
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    1. Wijewardena, Hema & De Zoysa, Anura, 1999. "A Comparative Analysis of Management Accounting Practices in Australia and Japan: An Empirical Investigation," The International Journal of Accounting, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 49-70.
    2. Kaplan, Robert S., 1986. "The role for empirical research in management accounting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 11(4-5), pages 429-452, July.
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