Management And Accounting Web

Management Accounting Course

Graduate or Upper Level
Suggested Topics and Related Materials

Provided by James R. Martin, Ph.D., CMA
Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida

Citation: Martin, J. R. Not dated. Management Accounting Course - Graduate or upper level: Suggested topics and related materials. Management And Accounting Web.

How the course evolved - This course evolved from an approach I wrote about in 1994. See Martin, J. R. 1994. A controversial issues approach to enhance management accounting education. Journal of Accounting Education (Winter): 59-75. (Summary). All of the materials outlined below are located on the MAAW web site. Each section (with a couple of exceptions) has a set of questions with links to materials where answers can be found or developed. These materials could be used as a self study course, or as an upper level or graduate course by any professor who teaches management accounting. Although I don't believe textbooks should be used in an upper level or graduate level management accounting course, various sections of the course could be used to supplement a textbook based course at any level. (At the upper level I believe students should be reading, summarizing, and discussing articles and cases, not textbooks). My approach is to have students summarize articles and then comment on them in class. I place the summaries on the MAAW web site so that we can all learn from each other's work. MAAW currently contains more than 500 article and book summaries. I have not included cases in the outline below because of time constraints, but for those who could expand this into two courses, cases could add more depth to the material.

How to study this material. One approach is to read everything you can find about a topic (including all the article and book summaries) and then go to the questions to test your understanding of the related concepts. However, since the questions provide links to potential answers, the questions can be used as a guide indicating what to read and when to read specific materials.

1. Introduction - Perhaps a quick review to emphasize that familiarity with traditional management accounting topics is a prerequisite for this course. See MAAW's Book for various topics, or most any cost or management accounting textbook. However, MAAW's book places more emphasis on criticisms of the traditional topics such as standard costing and responsibility accounting.

2. A Framework for Management Accounting - See the Framework topic. I like to compare the individualistic and collectivist concepts at the beginning of any management accounting course. This helps set the stage for many of the following topics. The main point to emphasize is the difference between the whole systems view versus concentrating on the individual parts of an organization. Several articles are also relevant to this section such as Caplan, E. H. 1966. Behavioral assumptions of management accounting. The Accounting Review (July): 496-509. (See Framework Puzzle Summary, Discussion Questions, and Multiple Choice Questions. Recent work in the area of Performance Management Systems also provides a broad framework for how management accounting fits into the overall management system. See the following paper for more on the PMS framework. Ferreira, A. and D. Otley. 2009. The design and use of performance management systems: An extended framework for analysis. Management Accounting Research (December): 263-282. (Summary).

3. Kaplan & Johnson’s Relevance Lost: The Rise and Fall of Management Accounting - See the Relevance Lost topic. The book could be assigned, but I use my question and answer summaries instead. Kaplan's 1983 paper could be assigned here as well since he gave us an early wakeup call before Relevance Lost was published. See Kaplan, R. S. 1983. Measuring manufacturing performance: A new challenge for managerial accounting research. The Accounting Review (October): 686-705. (JSTOR). (Summary, Discussion Questions: Short List, Long List, and Multiple Choice Questions.

4. Japanese Management Methods - See the Japanese Management topic. Although this is a very broad topic and could be a course by itself, I believe an understanding of Japanese methods (particularly the methods used by Toyota) are essential for an understanding of the need for changes in traditional management concepts and management accounting. We wrote about this in a paper published in 1992, so I use that as a starting point for this topic (See Summary). (Discussion Questions, and Multiple Choice Questions).

5. Statistical Process Control - MAAW's Chapter 3 section on SPC can be used here and supplemented with several articles. I think this is a very important topic because it emphasizes the difference between the accounting concept of control (budgeting and standard cost variance analysis) and the statistical concept of control. SPC provides a basis for criticizing standard costing and a basis for the concept of quality promoted by Deming. (Discussion Questions and Multiple Choice Questions).

6. Deming’s Theory of Management and Whole Systems Concepts - See the section on Deming's Theory of Management. This is another topic that could be an entire course, but I believe Deming's theory is the best source of material on the concept of whole systems thinking and will help students understand the criticisms of traditional management and management accounting. Deming's book (The New Economics...) could be assigned here, but I use my summary of the book instead. (Discussion Questions and Multiple Choice Questions).

7. Activity Based Cost Systems, Capacity Measurement, and the Controversy over how to use ABC - See the Section on ABC. MAAW's Chapter 7 could be used as a review of ABC. Students should be familiar with activity based costing, so the emphasis should be placed on the issues involved. There are several article summaries in this section related to why companies have so much trouble implementing successful ABC systems. Time-driven ABC is offered as a solution to these problems. For example, see Kaplan and Anderson 2004, Kaplan and Anderson 2007, and Kaplan and Porter 2011. Another issue that's been around for nearly 100 years is how to measure capacity. For example, Church and Gantt wrote about the capacity issue many years ago. See the Gantt Summary and Church Summary. See the Capacity Related section for other articles. (Discussion Questions and Multiple Choice Questions).

8. The Just-In-Time philosophy and Controversy over JIT vs. ABC - See the JIT section. JIT is another broad topic but students should have some familiarity with it from previous courses. MAAW's Chatper 8 section on JIT can be used to review the topic, but I think the emphasis in an upper level or graduate course should be placed on how traditional accounting methods conflict with the concepts of JIT, and the potential conflicts between ABC and JIT. The materials on Continuous Improvement, and Lean Accounting are also relevant to this topic. (Discussion Questions and Multiple Choice Questions).

9. The Theory of Constraints (TOC), and ABC vs. TOC - See the TOC section. This is another topic that could be the basis for an entire course. But it is an important topic, much too important to ignore. In my view it is the second best source of information related to whole systems thinking. MAAW's Chapter 8 section on TOC could be used to review this topic, but there are several article summaries that can be used. Goldratt's books could be assigned, but MAAW contains summaries of four of Goldratt's books, i.e., The Goal, What is this thing called TOC, The Haystack Syndrome, and Necessary by not Sufficient. I emphasize the conflict between TOC and traditional accounting concepts and the potential conflict with ABC. (Discussion Questions and Multiple Choice Questions).

10. Activity Based Management (ABM), CAM-I, and the Controversy concerning overselling ABC concepts. See the sections on ABM, Cost Management, and CAM-I. I use my summary of the CAM-I conceptual design to introduce or review the CAM-I projects. MAAW's Chatper 8 section can be used to review the ABM concepts and Johnson's different view of ABM. Since ABM includes several models and many concepts (See ABM models and concepts summary), it is difficult to cover, but it sets up many other topics and issues in management accounting. (Discussion Questions, CAM-I Multiple Choice Questions and ABM Multiple Choice Questions).

11. German Cost Management and Resource Consumption Accounting - See the Section on RCA. This is a relatively new topic and can be covered with a number of articles. MAAW contains several articles summaries related to Resource Consumption Accounting. I don't try to cover this topic in depth, but it is a topic that students should be exposed to in upper level and graduate management accounting courses. (Questions).

12. Product Life Cycle Management and Environmental Cost Management. See the sections on PLC and Environmental Cost. I put these topics together because the PLC topic leads to a whole systems view which includes the environment. I use my summary of PLC articles summaries as a basis for discussing this topic in class, but this is one of CAM-I's concepts and some of the CAM-I material should be used as well. (Discussion Questions and Multiple Choice Questions).

13. Investment Management, and Investment Management vs. Capital Budgeting - See the section on Investment Management. My summary of article summaries can be used to discuss the issues in this section. This is another concept emphasized in the CAM-I conceptual design. (Discussion Questions and Multiple Choice Questions).

14. The Contribution Margin Approach and Related Controversies. See the section on Contribution Margin and Direct Costing. The controversy related to direct costing vs. absorption costing can be traced back to articles in the N.A.A. Bulletin. But now the controversy is more involved because it includes throughput costing as well as ABC. (Discussion Questions and Multiple Choice Questions).

15. The Responsibility Accounting Controversy. See the section on Responsibility Accounting. I introduce this controversy in MAAW's Chapter 9. The material on investment centers, and ROI in Chapter 14 is also useful as review material, but the articles by critics of responsibility accounting (e.g., C. J. McNair) provide the main basis for this section. (Discussion Questions and Multiple Choice Questions).

16. The Quality Cost and other Controversies related to Constrained Optimization Techniques. See the sections on Constrained Optimization and Quality Related Issues. I emphasize the quality cost controversy to represent the constrained optimization controversy. This includes the conflict between Juran, Taguchi, and Deming's views of quality. The main idea is to emphasize the conflict between continuous improvement and optimizing assuming static constraints. (Discussion Questions and Multiple Choice Questions).

17. Relevance Regained and Profit Beyond Measure - See the Relevance Regained section. No advanced course on management accounting would be complete without considering Johnson's articles and books. We summarized those two books and several articles that can be used to address the issues raised by Johnson, and Johnson and Broms. Profit Beyond Measure also adds to the previous materials on Toyota and Japanese Management Methods. (Discussion Questions and Multiple Choice Questions).

18. The Balanced Scorecard and Strategy. See the sections on the Balanced Scorecard and Strategy. These topics are separate but closely related. The Balanced Scorecard is promoted as a way to support the organization's strategy, so a discussion of strategy is a prerequisite to a study of the balanced scorecard. (Discussion Questions and Multiple Choice Questions).

19. EVA and other Performance Measures. See the sections on EVA and Performance Measurements. This is a can of worms because there is so much disagreement on how performance should be measured, but it follows from the balanced scorecard and is an important topic. (See question 25 in the Balanced Scorecard Questions).

20. Change Management. See the Change Management section. This is a relatively new topic for management accounting, but one that a CAM-I group developed to consider. We summarized several articles in this area that are used as a basis for discussing this topic.

Related pages:

Links to All Discussion Questions

Links to All Multiple Choice Questions