Summary by James R. Martin, Ph.D., CMA
Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida
This is a very short article by Richard Vangermeersch considering the nature of the topic. The paper could have been a very long discussion of the historical significance of classic management accounting literature. The purpose of the paper is to promote the study of 100 articles selected from 30 volumes of NACA Bulletins and Yearbooks published between 1919 and 1949. Vangermeersch mentions some of these papers in relation to each of ten reasons for studying this literature, but there are no in-depth discussions and no references to help the reader locate the specific papers he mentions. A summary of his ten reasons is provided below:
1. Many ideas that could be useful today were well developed during this period, but were lost. He mentions papers related to overhead allocations using machine hours, the natural business year, and an article that included 77 types of costs.
2. The old ideas from this classic literature can be used to support current proposals.
3. These old writers (e.g., James H. Rand Jr., J. Brooks Heckert, Keith Powlison, Warren G. Bailey and Howard Greer) were very articulate. Reading their work can help you increase your own ability to speak and write about management accounting.
4. Learning from, and about accounting heroes enhances one's ability to find novel solutions to problems. The authors who wrote the classic literature provide good role models for management accountants.
5. The classic set of literature referred to in this paper includes a number of case studies that help the reader understand how some current accounting problems were treated in the past. Many of these studies are related to service oriented organizations such as the motion picture industry, the Post Office, the New York World's Fair, and the airline industry.
6. This set of materials helps one build an interdisciplinary organizational perspective and recognize that management accountants cannot solve problems in a vacuum. These articles and cases reveal that management accounting is an eclectic field. He mentions accounting problems related to marketing, behavioral issues, economic issues, and engineering.
7. Studying this work helps accountants build the pride in their profession that is vital to success in accounting.
8. These authors discuss some old controversial topics that are still controversial today. For example, there are debates in the classic literature related to what basis should be used for burden (overhead) rates, and when group bonuses should be used.
9. Studying the classic articles and cases provides an incentive to build your accounting library with a rich literature base that few people know about.
10. Your study will make you more flexible and more valuable to your employer.
Some articles by the authors mentioned above:
Greer, H. C. 1928. Where teaching lags behind practice. The Accounting Review (September): 289-296. (JSTOR link).
Greer, H. C. 1930. Distribution cost analysis - Methods and examples. N.A.C.A. Bulletin (June 1): 1305-1321.
Greer, H. C. 1931. The technique of distribution cost accounting. The Accounting Review (June): 136-139. (JSTOR link).
Greer, H. C. 1932. A council on accounting research. The Accounting Review (September): 176-181. (JSTOR link).
Greer, H. C. 1932. Development of standards for the control of selling activities. N.A.C.A. Bulletin (March 15): 943-962.
Greer, H. C. 1933. The present status of accounting teaching. The Accounting Review (March): 62-67. (JSTOR link).
Greer, H. C. 1936. Accounting for by-products and joint products. N.A.C.A. Bulletin (August 15): 1399-1423.
Greer, H. C. 1937. Distribution costs as factors in pricing policy. N.A.C.A. Bulletin (November 1): 263-281.
Greer, H. C. 1938. Application of accounting rules and standards to financial statements. The Accounting Review (December): 333-345. (JSTOR link).
Greer, H. C. 1938. To what extent can the practice of accounting be reduced to rules and standards. Journal of Accountancy (March): 213-223. For a note on this paper see the annotated bibliography in Rappaport, A. 1965. Seminar research on uniformity. The Accounting Review (July): 643-648. (JSTOR link).
Greer, H. C. 1938. What are accepted principles of accounting? The Accounting Review (March): 25-31. (JSTOR link).
Greer, H. C. 1943. Structural fundamentals of financial statements. The Accounting Review (July): 193-205. (JSTOR link).
Greer, H. C. 1945. Treatment of income taxes in corporation income statements. The Accounting Review (January): 96-101. (JSTOR link).
Greer, H. C. 1948. Depreciation and the price level: A symposium second negative. The Accounting Review (April): 129-131. (JSTOR link).
Greer, H. C. 1952. Cost factors in price making. Harvard Business Review (July-August): 33-45.
Greer, H. C. 1954. Alternatives to direct costing. N.A.C.A. Bulletin (March): 878-888.
Greer, H. C. 1954. Managerial accounting - Twenty years from now. The Accounting Review (April): 175-185. (JSTOR link).
Greer, H. C. 1955. Let's have the story - Quick! N.A.C.A. Bulletin (December): 492-508.
Greer, H. C. 1956. Benchmarks and beacons. The Accounting Review (January): 3-14. (JSTOR link).
Greer, H. C. 1962. Divisional profit calculation - Notes on the "transfer price" problem. N.A.A. Bulletin (July): 5-12. (A possible combination of cost, market, and negotiation to determine transfer prices).
Greer, H. C. 1964. The corporation stockholder - Accounting's forgotten man. The Accounting Review (January): 22-31. (JSTOR link).
Greer, H. C. 1966. Anyone for widgets? Journal of Accountancy (April): 41-49. (Summary).
Greer, H. C. 1968. The chop suey caper. Journal of Accountancy (April): 27-34. (Summary).
Heckert, J. B. 1929. Methods and advantages of early closing. The Accounting Review (September): 181-191. (JSTOR link).
Heckert, J. B. 1933. The accountant's part in determining standards. The Accounting Review (December): 342-344. (JSTOR link).
Heckert, J. B. 1947. Budgetary control of manufacturing and commercial expense. N.A.C.A. Bulletin (March 15): 869-880.
Heckert, J. B. 1949. A course in controllership. The Accounting Review (April): 208-209. (JSTOR link).
Heckert, J. B. 1949. Coverage and cost provisions of the Robinson-Patman Act. N.A.C.A. Bulletin (November): 269-282.
Heckert, J. B., H. F. Taggart, C. L. van Sickle, R. M. Mikesell, F. W. Woodbridge, L. O. Foster and T. W. Leland. 1937. Instruction in methods of accounting control: A symposium. The Accounting Review (June): 114-123. (JSTOR link).
Heckert, J. B., W. S. Krebs, R. E. Taylor, A. C. Littleton, W. A. Paton, G. H. Newlove, C. Rufus Rorem, D. J. Hornberger and E. A. Saliers. 1930. Comments on the definition of earned surplus. The Accounting Review (June): 168-174. (JSTOR link).
Rand, J. H. Jr. 1927. The profit element. N.A.C.A. Bulletin (September 15).
Other related summaries:
Frank, W. G. 1990. Back to the future: A retrospective view of J. Maurice Clark's Studies In The Economics of Overhead Costs. Journal of Management Accounting Research (2): 155-166. (Summary).
Gantt, H. L. 1994. The relation between production and costs. Journal of Cost Management (Spring): 4-11. (This is a presentation Gantt made in 1915). (Summary).
Horngren, C. T. 1989. Cost and management accounting: Yesterday, and today. Journal of Management Accounting Research (1): 21 - 32. (Summary).
Johnson, H. T. 1983. The search for gain in markets and firms: A review of the historical emergence of management accounting systems. Accounting, Organizations and Society 8(2-3): 139-146. (Summary).
Johnson, H. T. 1987. The decline of cost management: A reinterpretation of 20th-century cost accounting. Journal of Cost Management (Spring): 5-12. (Summary).
Johnson, H. T. 1992. Relevance Regained: From Top-Down Control to Bottom-up Empowerment. The Free Press. (Summary).
Johnson, H. T. and A. Broms. 2000. Profit Beyond Measure: Extraordinary Results through Attention to Work and People. The Free Press. (Summary).
Johnson, H. T. and R. S. Kaplan. 1987. Relevance Lost: The Rise and Fall of Management Accounting. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. (Summaries and additional information).
Martin, J. R. Not dated. 200 years of accounting history dates and events. Management And Accounting Web. http://maaw.info/AccountingHistoryDatesAndEvents.htm
Shillinglaw, G. 1989. Managerial cost accounting: Present and future. Journal of Management Accounting Research (1): 33-46. (Summary).