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The Economic Impact of Alternative Service Department Allocation Bases in Decentralised Settings

Shane S Dikolli (University of Texas at Austin)

Asian Review of Accounting

ISSN: 1321-7348

Article publication date: 1 February 2000



Prior work has focused on the impact of using alternative bases for allocating costs to products but there has been little work that evaluates the use of alternative allocation bases for allocating costs to departments. In particular, if different departments of a multi‐national firm are located in settings with different reporting requirements, exchange rate risks, and costs of capital, then the choice of cost allocation base can be important. This paper examines the economic impact of alternative service department allocation bases in a decentralised setting. A non‐linear programming (NLP) approach is used to model the problem. A review of prior literature identifies a method, based on the NLP approach, for determining the economic impact of alternative allocation bases in a multi‐product setting. The method is adapted in this paper for the multi‐divisional context. The study finds that centralised production volume decision‐making is superior to decentralised decision‐making using either revenue or volume‐based cost allocation bases. Under certain conditions, revenue‐based allocation bases are also found to be superior to volume bases. Under the assumptions of the model no distinction can be made between the centralised solution and a profit‐based allocation regime. A practical implication of this study is that designers of cost allocation systems need to consider not only the direct income‐shifting effect of different cost allocation bases but also the indirect economic effect of consequential changes in the operating decisions of the firm.


Dikolli, S.S. (2000), "The Economic Impact of Alternative Service Department Allocation Bases in Decentralised Settings", Asian Review of Accounting, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 1-24.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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