Advances in Management Accounting: Volume 20

Cover of Advances in Management Accounting

Table of contents

(19 chapters)
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List of Contributors

Pages vii-viii
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Introduction

Pages xv-xviii

This volume of Advances in Management Accounting (AIMA) begins with a paper by Neumann, Cauvin, and Roberts on the issue of information overload and multiple constituency values. Stakeholder advocates call for including more environmental and social disclosures but do not consider how these additional disclosures might lead to information overload and impair the use and interpretation of corporate performance measures. As we know, shareholders and boards of directors are most concerned with market data such as earnings per share, dividend rates, and market value growth. The authors suggest here that management control system (MCS) designers must consider information overload, primacy, and information markers before expanding the MCS to include social and nonfinancial disclosures. Management accountants are accustomed to providing performance measures within an organization and MCS usually have an internal focus. CFOs are often not accustomed to balance the needs of stakeholders with those of managers and owners. Companies and CFOs will face an information overload dilemma in making these determinations, and the users will be overloaded in sifting through the multiple dimensions of information that are increasingly being provided. The bias toward financial performance measures will distort both the provision and use of sustainability performance measures.

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In the growing debate about designing new management control systems (MCS) to include stakeholder values, there has been little discussion about information overload. Stakeholder advocates call for including more environmental and related social disclosures but do not consider how information overload might impair the use and interpretation of corporate performance measures. As we know, shareholders and boards of directors are most concerned with market data such as earnings per share, dividend rates, and market value growth. In this chapter, we assert that management control system designers must consider information overload before expanding the MCS to include social and nonfinancial disclosures.

The paradox in expanding MCS is that demand for sustainability performance measures will likely result in overload for both information preparers and information users. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and similar sustainability disclosures are likely to overload MCS and overwhelm the readers and users by performance reports that include multiple dimensions.

CSR affects the design of companies' annual reports because stakeholders are increasingly concerned with how organizations address their social responsibilities and how they disclose their societal responses. Management accountants are accustomed to providing performance measures within an organization and MCS usually have an internal focus. CFOs are often not accustomed to balancing the needs of stakeholders with those of managers and owners. We suggest that companies and CFOs will face an information overload dilemma in making these determinations, and that users will be overloaded in sifting through the multiple dimensions of information that are increasingly being provided. We suggest that the bias toward financial performance measures will distort both the provision of relevant information and the use of sustainability performance measures. We modified the Epstein and Roy sustainability model (2001) to illustrate some of these potential impacts.

We note that the balanced scorecard (BSC) was developed as one such tool to reflect and communicate multiple measures. We summarize a previous study showing how managers ignored multiple performance measures in a performance scorecard study. We then relate our results to some of the information overload literature to support our suggestion that stakeholders will face many of the same information overload issues and constraints when using and processing social disclosures.

Our summary of the information overload literature results in a call for more interdisciplinary information overload research involving real-world contexts and tasks. We note that most of the extant information overload literature is restricted to discipline-based silo-oriented studies and to simplistic evaluations, brand identification, or forecasting tasks. Our study went into some depth to describe the business, its strategies and objectives, and a comparison of actual results to specific goals. As management control systems evolve or are designed to report sustainability data, the issues surrounding increasing complexity and information overload will become exponentially problematic. We suggest that future research also include consideration of information overload conditions facing preparers and disclosers of sustainability measures.

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Empirical evidence suggests that competitive advantage is of considerable importance to organizations as global competition, extensive changes in technology, and customer demands intensify. However, little work has been done in the management accounting arena to identify critical organizational strategies that might facilitate it. Following a literature review, this study assesses the extent to which product life cycle cost analysis, customer involvement, and cost management contribute to the competitive advantage of firms. The findings of this research show that life cycle cost analysis, customer involvement, and cost management enhance an organization's competitive advantage, consistent with the study's theoretical expectations. The provision of empirical evidence on the utility of these three variables to the promotion of competitive advantage underscores the need to conduct further research focusing on them in management accounting.

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The organizational ecology perspective approaches the integration of sustainability into the accounting curriculum by following the evolutionary process of organizational development. There is a growing interest in sustainability, and, recently, books and articles have appeared that discuss sustainability accounting and reporting. A number of schools have developed standalone courses in sustainability accounting while others have integrated sustainability into existing courses in accounting ethics or corporate social responsibility. This chapter applies ecological, both organizational sociological and anthropological, approaches to argue in favor of integration of sustainability into the accounting curriculum rather than in standalone courses. These two approaches are utilized because these disciplines have well-established theoretical and methodological approaches that can be applied to study the subject of sustainability, natural resources conservation, and ecological management. In addition, the current trend in accounting education is for the incorporation of social and behavioral sciences perspectives, including sociology and anthropology, into the accounting curriculum. Accordingly, the application of the ecological approach from these disciplines contributes significantly to the study of the integration of sustainability into the accounting curriculum.

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This research examines how the cost performance of defense contracts varies among the Air Force, Army, Navy, and the Department of Defense (DoD) and among five major defense contractors: Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and General Dynamics. Data for these analyses was extracted from the recently established Defense Acquisition Management Information Retrieval (DAMIR) web-based interface for management information on Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAP). Note that, in addition to the three military services, MDAP data is also reported for DoD itself.

Data analysis indicates that the Navy ranks last among the military services and DoD in cost performance for MDAP contracts, while the Air Force ranks best. Of the defense contractors, Raytheon ranks last in cost performance and General Dynamics is next to last. Furthermore, the Navy contracts more frequently with Raytheon and General Dynamics than do the other services or DoD. Explanatory factors for poor cost performance may be due to factors such as the Navy's lack of oversight, the quality of the acquisition workforce, the defense contractors’ cost inefficiency, ethical lapses, or weak corporate governance, or combinations of these factors.

In addition, the schedule performance data was also identified. Tests of statistical significance on the schedule performance difference generally yield no results except for one relationship which indicates that the Navy is more likely to have Acquisition Program Baseline (APB) schedule breaches than its counterparts. Finally, cost performance data is examined for statistically significant differences between the two major categories of defense contracts: fixed-price contracts and cost-plus contracts. However, no significant findings were discovered.

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This study explores in the context of the use of the balanced scorecard (BSC) by management, whether the use of both financial and nonfinancial measures by top managers in their evaluations influences middle-level managers’ evaluations of their subordinates. This study uses a 2×2 experimental design where the subjects (MBA students) were asked to evaluate the performance of two lower-level managers under two different manipulation conditions. Subjects acted as middle-level managers of a hypothetical company. They were provided with the same performance information of two low-level managers under both conditions. However, under one condition, subjects were provided with additional information: the top management's evaluation style which used both financial and nonfinancial measures in their performance evaluations. No additional information was provided to subjects under the other manipulation condition. We also manipulated two performance information patterns of the two low-level managers. We predict that if middle-level managers are aware that the top manager uses both financial and nonfinancial measures in the BSC to evaluate their performance, middle-level managers would develop a mindset in which they will evaluate subordinates in a similar style, evaluating their subordinates on the basis of both financial and nonfinancial measures. The results of this study support the hypotheses. The findings of this study suggest that the contagion effect exists in the use of the BSC in performance evaluations.

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Presently, knowledge about the design of multiple perspectives performance measurement and management systems (PMMS), comprising financial and non-financial measures, in Australian business organisations, is limited. The empirical findings of a questionnaire-based study provide evidence to describe PMMS implemented in a sample of the Australian listed organisations, including information on levels of PMMS use, PMMS types, perspectives and measures.

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This study revisits the area of reliance on budget to evaluate employee performance. It contributes in several ways. First, it updates this traditional research area making it more relevant to the current debate on the use of financial vis-à-vis nonfinancial measures in multidimensional performance measurement systems. Second, it examines the relationship between reliance on budget and budgetary participation in a manner that is different from that used by prior studies. Instead of treating budgetary participation as a moderating variable, the study examines it as a mediating variable. Specifically, the study hypothesizes that reliance on budget as performance measures affects the extent of employee budgetary participation. Third, it incorporates the recent interest by management accounting researchers in organizational fairness into this research area. It hypothesizes that budgetary participation affects the extent of employees’ perceptions of procedural fairness, which, in turn, influences employee job satisfaction and performance. The structural equation modeling results based on a sample of 152 managers indicate that the use of budget targets for performance evaluation is positively associated with employee job satisfaction and performance. However, much of these effects are indirect via (1) budgetary participation and (2) procedural fairness.

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Value-based management and the balanced scorecard are two of the most distinguished management concepts of the past decades. The main criticism levelled at value-based management is that it is rarely applied in business practice. By contrast, the balanced scorecard is mainly criticized for its insufficient integration into corporate strategy. The two concepts are occasionally described as competing business philosophies in management theory. This chapter offers an integrative view of value-based management and the balanced scorecard. The resulting ‘value-based scorecard’ incorporates the value-based business philosophy while creating a link between the scorecard and the ‘value–added’ corporate strategy. This minimizes a multitude of other critical aspects of both concepts. In light of this, it is recommended that both management theory and business practice further interpret or use the value-based scorecard presented in this study as a tool for value-based management.

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The present research examines the effect of incentivizing both outcome and driver measures of SPMS on middle managers' proactivity in influencing the strategy formulation process. A case-based experiment was conducted among 74 full-time employees. The results suggest that when incentives are linked to both outcome and driver measures of SPMS, compared with when they are outcome-based and not linked to the SPMS, managers are more proactive in communicating strategy-related issues to top management. In addition, this effect of SPMS-based incentives on middle managers' proactivity is mediated by their autonomous extrinsic motivation to achieve strategic goals. The results are in general consistent with postulates of the self-determination theory of motivation. This chapter also has practical implication. Specifically, recent evidence suggests that most SPMS adopters fail to validate causal business models underlying their formulated strategies (Ittner, 2008; Ittner & Larcker, 2003, 2005). Middle managers' proactive strategic behavior may be one means to prompt top management to inspect formulated strategies and their underlying business models.

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This chapter provides evidence on the factors that influence the design of the control arrangements that govern support services. Specifically, we study sourcing decisions of non-strategic information technology (IT) support services. While the popular management literature suggests to outsource non-strategic activities, in practice organizations perform these services (partly) in-house. Based on transaction cost economics (TCE), we hypothesize that control structure choices depend on asset specificity, uncertainty and frequency. Using survey data on IT sourcing decisions from 89 firms in the construction industry, we find support for most of our hypotheses. Our results indicate that asset specificity deriving from the degree of organizational embeddedness of the IT function negatively affects firms’ propensity to outsource their non-core IT support, and that (behavioural) uncertainty intensifies this negative effect. As expected, we also find that frequency has a negative direct effect on the willingness to outsource IT services provision. However, we find no support for the hypothesized interaction between asset specificity and frequency. Overall, our study indicates that the organization's choice to outsource non-strategic support services depends on the organizational role of these services, rather than on their technological characteristics.

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Cover of Advances in Management Accounting
DOI
10.1108/S1474-7871(2012)20
Publication date
2012-05-03
Book series
Advances in Management Accounting
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78052-754-3
Book series ISSN
1474-7871