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Battles in the costing war: UK debates, 1950-75


  • David Dugdale
  • T. Colwyn Jones


In the UK, 1950-75 was a lively period in the long-running debates between proponents of absorption and marginal costing. In the nexus of competing interests, management accountants advocated and defended rival costing systems with much vigour and passion. Expressed in the language of the times, these debates were 'battles' in the costing 'war'. We focus on these battles, analysing the various forces that operated upon the combatants, and locate them in the wider costing war. We conclude that no final resolution of the conflict was achieved in the twentieth century, nor is one likely in the foreseeable future.

Suggested Citation

  • David Dugdale & T. Colwyn Jones, 2003. "Battles in the costing war: UK debates, 1950-75," Accounting History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(3), pages 305-338.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:acbsfi:v:13:y:2003:i:3:p:305-338
    DOI: 10.1080/09585200310001606608

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hopper, Trevor & Armstrong, Peter, 1991. "Cost accounting, controlling labour and the rise of conglomerates," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 16(5-6), pages 405-438.
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