Advances in Management Accounting: Volume 28

Cover of Advances in Management Accounting

Table of contents

(9 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xvi
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Purpose

This paper examines the linkages between the ethics and management control literatures and suggests some potentially fruitful areas for future research and for integration in the classroom.

Methodology/approach

We review topics in the ethics and management control literatures organizing them around the six modules used in the accounting ethics course taught at the University of Southern California: (a) professional standards, (b) distinguishing right from wrong, (c) understanding why (good) people do bad things, (d) getting employees to behave ethically (corporate ethics programs), (e) getting people to speak up when they see something wrong taking place (Giving Voice to Values), and (f) whistleblowing (the last resort).

Findings

While we find many topics where ethics and management control are concerned with similar issues, there are very few papers that approach these topics from the two perspectives.

Originality/value

We provide an overview of topics where ethics and management control overlap, and highlight the need for greater convergence between the two literatures. By linking MCS and ethics, organizations can provide a framework to promote behavior that both contributes to the achievement of the organization’s objectives and also follows ethical principles. We comment on what may happen when ethics and management control diverge, and discuss controls that can promote a strong ethical climate.

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Purpose

The paper provides a research framework for analyzing CSR issues and suggests knowledge gaps that can be addressed by managerial accounting researchers.

Methodology/approach

The paper draws on frameworks introduced by Epstein (2008), Aguinis and Glavas (2012), and Hahn, Figge, Pinkse, and Preuss (2010).

Findings

Despite the potential tension between managing corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance and corporate financial performance, researchers have generally established a positive relationship between the two. However, the underlying mechanisms or processes linking CSR efforts to financial performance are not well understood. Managerial accounting researchers can help fill the knowledge gap on linkages between processes, performance measures, and incentives in achieving CSR goals. A particularly important area of potential research is how firms motivate creativity, both individually and collectively, to integrate CSR initiatives into firm processes.

Originality/value

The paper provides a framework for researchers starting out at the intersection of management accounting and CSR.

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Purpose

The paper complements the research framework proposed by Kim and Matsumura (2017) through a broad survey of the management accounting research in sustainability.

Methodology<bold>/</bold>approach

The paper reviews recent management accounting research in the area of corporate responsibility/sustainability; focusing on articles published in seven widely recognized accounting journals and the Journal of Business Ethics.

Findings

Our survey of the recent literature indicates: (1) a major focus has been on integration of sustainability in management control systems; (2) the primary research methods used are case studies and surveys, with few large sample, archival studies (primarily on compensation); and (3) a significant amount of literature has been published outside of the traditional accounting literature.

Originality/value

The paper complements existing literature reviews in the area by focusing on the set of most widely recognized journals. By focusing on these journals, we highlight opportunities for future research that are likely to reach a broader accounting readership.

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Purpose

Despite extensive adoption of Simons’ Levers of Control (LoC) framework, there is still considerable diversity in its operationalization which impedes the coherent development of the literature and compromises its value to researchers. The purpose of this paper is to draw researchers back to the conceptual core of the framework as a basis for stable, consistent definitions of the domain of observables.

Methodology/approach

We derive the conceptual core of the framework from Simons’ writings. We highlight instability in existing operational definitions of the LoC, weaknesses in the extent to which these definitions reference this conceptual core, and inconsistencies in the restriction of LoC to formal information-based routines.

Findings

We draw on the inconsistencies identified to build the case for commensuration or a “common standard” for the framework’s use on two levels: the constructs within the framework (through reference to the conceptual core of the framework) and the framework itself (through explicit inclusion of informal controls).

Research implications

We illustrate the benefits of commensuration through the potential to guide the scope of the domain of observables in empirical LoC studies, and to study LoC as complementary or competing with other management control theories.

Originality/value

Our approach to resolving tensions arising from inconsistencies in the empirical definitions of LoC differs from others in that we focus on the strategic variables underlying the framework to define the conceptual core. We believe this approach offers greater potential for commensuration at the level of the constructs within the framework and the framework itself.

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Purpose

Compare and contrast how the accounting, organizational behavior and other literatures analyze sunk costs. Sunk costs form a key part of the decision-making component of the management accounting literature, which generally include previously incurred and unrecoverable costs. Management accountants believe, since current or future actions cannot change sunk costs, decision makers should ignore them. Thus, ongoing fixed costs or previously incurred sunk costs, while relevant for matters of accountability such as costing, income determination, and performance evaluation are irrelevant for most short- and long-term decisions. However, the organizational behavior literature indicates that sunk costs affect decision makers’ actions – especially their emotional attachments to the related project and the asymmetry of attitudes regarding the recognizing of losses and gains. Called the “sunk cost effect” or “sunk cost fallacy,” this conflict in sunk costs’ underlying nature reflects one element of incoherence in contemporary accounting discourse. We discuss this sunk cost conflict from an accounting and a philosophical perspective to denote some ambiguities that decision usefulness and accountability introduces into accounting discourse.

Methodology/approach

Review, summarize and analyze the above literatures

Findings

Managerial accountants can apply many lessons from the various literature sources.

Originality/value

We also show how differing opinions on how to treat sunk costs impact a firm’s decision-making process both economically and socially.

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Purpose

This paper analyzes what factors drive a company’s decision to align financial and management accounting policies as a measure of integration of management accounting and financial accounting at the highest hierarchy levels of a company.

Methodology/approach

Research hypotheses for six different determinants are developed: company size, number of operating segments and subsidiaries, internationality of the business, business strategy, company life cycle stage, and leverage. The hypotheses are tested using International Financial Reporting Standards 8 (IFRS 8) segment report data from a large sample of 175 German publicly listed companies.

Findings

A higher internationality of the business causes companies to choose a lower degree of integration. Companies with a prospector (defender) strategy choose a lower (higher) degree of integration. Companies in later life cycle stages and with higher leverage choose a lower degree of integration as well. Company size does not impact integration.

Practical implications

Companies have to decide whether, and to what extent, to integrate financial and management accounting and align the two sets of accounting policies. German companies have traditionally kept the two sets separate. As the research reported in this paper sheds light on when companies do not consider integration to be beneficial, it is useful for practitioners.

Originality/value

The legal reporting requirements in Germany as well as German accounting traditions make the German setting particularly suited for examining the integration of management accounting and financial accounting. Using the number of adjustments to financial accounting policies made for management accounting purposes is a novel approach, and the number of adjustments is a more fine-grained measure of integration at the highest hierarchy levels of a company than the measures used in prior literature.

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Purpose

Prior research identified conflicts in implementing performance measurement systems that include both financial and non-financial measures. Attempts to incorporate non-financial measures, for example, balanced scorecards (BSCs), have shown short-term success, only to be replaced with systems that rely on financial measures. We develop a theoretical model to explore evaluators’ choice and use of the most important performance measurement criterion among financial and non-financial measures.

Methodology/approach

Our model links participants’ prior evaluation experiences with their attitudes about relative accounting qualities and with their choice of the most important performance measure. This choice subsequently affects their evaluation judgments of managers who perform differentially on financial versus non-financial measures.

Findings

Experimental testing of our structural equation model indicates that it meets the accepted goodness of fit criteria. We conclude that experience has an influence on choice of performance measures and on decision heuristics in making such evaluations. We suggest that an “experience gap” must be considered when deciding which performance metrics to emphasize in scorecards or similar performance reports. We analyzed four accounting qualities, importance, relevance, reliability, and comparability and found that importance, relevance, and reliability have strong effects on how managers prioritize and use accounting measures.

Originality/value

We conducted our study in a controlled, experimental setting, including participants with diverse experiences. We provide direct evidence of participants’ experience and attitudes about the relative accounting qualities of financial and non-financial measures which we link to their choice of the most important performance measure. We link this choice to their performance evaluations.

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Index

Pages 223-232
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Cover of Advances in Management Accounting
DOI
10.1108/S1474-7871201728
Publication date
2017-07-03
Book series
Advances in Management Accounting
Editor
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78714-530-6
Book series ISSN
1474-7871