Most literature on costing systems is set in a manufacturing context. The primary rationale for these systems is the generation of product costs information; however, this may be done keeping multiple purposes in mind. Product costs are required for inventory evaluation, performance assessment (as they are derived from magnitudes of inputs and outputs which reflect productivity levels), control (as with standard costing) and decision making of various types and over various time scales. Their design can be dependent on their purpose(s) thus the costing system takes a wide range of technical forms including, for example, full actual costing (traditional or activity-based), direct or variable costing, throughput costing, standard costing (full or variable), opportunity costing, strategic costing (product attribute, quality and life-cycle costing). Moreover, many contingencies other than purpose can influence these systems: the nature of the manufacturing technology (jobs, batch or process), the cost structure of the firm (altering the relative emphasis on different cost elements), the competitiveness of the environment, the organisation type, the strategy and objectives ,the importance attributed to cost information by management and the regulation are all factors which may influence the adoption of Activity-based Costing and, more widely, costing system and Management Control Systems design (Chenhall, 2003; Hopper & Major, 2007). In this respect, several surveys have been carried out during the nineties focussing on costing practices in Europe and on the contingency related to the adoption of different costing systems (Brierley, et al., 2001; Drury & Tayles, 2005; Gosselin, 2007). However surveys give important data on costing systems design, implementation and diffusion but responses may be unreliable and they cannot deeply explore how contextual factors influence costing system design and usage, in particular with regard to the Activity-Based Costing. Intensive field-based methods can identify and explore issues from the perspective of actors involved, contributing to reduce the gap among contextual factors and costing system design and change. Furthermore costing systems also exist in a service sector context and in this setting, with some notable exceptions (e.g. Brignall, 1997; Major & Hopper, 2005; Collini, 2006; Hopper & Major, 2007; Cugini et al., 2007), there has been much less literature and research. This study focuses on costing system design in an Italian airport, a regulated service industry setting. First of all it aims at identifying the contingencies influencing Activity-Based Costing adoption and change. In addition to contingency identification, however, the case study method employed makes it possible to investigate how contingencies do (or do not) exert influence which leads to alterations in the Activity-Based Costing. In order to realize this purpose it also is important to consider the pressures coming from the external institutions because of the regulated nature of the firm taken into consideration. In this case the adoption or the design of costing systems could be due to the necessity of maintaining or gaining legitimacy when faced by other institutions. The study tries to link the contingency rationale to the institutional approach exploring synergies.

The case of Activity-Based Costing in a service regulated firm: the interplay between economic and institutional pressures

GIANNETTI, RICCARDO;
2008

Abstract

Most literature on costing systems is set in a manufacturing context. The primary rationale for these systems is the generation of product costs information; however, this may be done keeping multiple purposes in mind. Product costs are required for inventory evaluation, performance assessment (as they are derived from magnitudes of inputs and outputs which reflect productivity levels), control (as with standard costing) and decision making of various types and over various time scales. Their design can be dependent on their purpose(s) thus the costing system takes a wide range of technical forms including, for example, full actual costing (traditional or activity-based), direct or variable costing, throughput costing, standard costing (full or variable), opportunity costing, strategic costing (product attribute, quality and life-cycle costing). Moreover, many contingencies other than purpose can influence these systems: the nature of the manufacturing technology (jobs, batch or process), the cost structure of the firm (altering the relative emphasis on different cost elements), the competitiveness of the environment, the organisation type, the strategy and objectives ,the importance attributed to cost information by management and the regulation are all factors which may influence the adoption of Activity-based Costing and, more widely, costing system and Management Control Systems design (Chenhall, 2003; Hopper & Major, 2007). In this respect, several surveys have been carried out during the nineties focussing on costing practices in Europe and on the contingency related to the adoption of different costing systems (Brierley, et al., 2001; Drury & Tayles, 2005; Gosselin, 2007). However surveys give important data on costing systems design, implementation and diffusion but responses may be unreliable and they cannot deeply explore how contextual factors influence costing system design and usage, in particular with regard to the Activity-Based Costing. Intensive field-based methods can identify and explore issues from the perspective of actors involved, contributing to reduce the gap among contextual factors and costing system design and change. Furthermore costing systems also exist in a service sector context and in this setting, with some notable exceptions (e.g. Brignall, 1997; Major & Hopper, 2005; Collini, 2006; Hopper & Major, 2007; Cugini et al., 2007), there has been much less literature and research. This study focuses on costing system design in an Italian airport, a regulated service industry setting. First of all it aims at identifying the contingencies influencing Activity-Based Costing adoption and change. In addition to contingency identification, however, the case study method employed makes it possible to investigate how contingencies do (or do not) exert influence which leads to alterations in the Activity-Based Costing. In order to realize this purpose it also is important to consider the pressures coming from the external institutions because of the regulated nature of the firm taken into consideration. In this case the adoption or the design of costing systems could be due to the necessity of maintaining or gaining legitimacy when faced by other institutions. The study tries to link the contingency rationale to the institutional approach exploring synergies.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/119881
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