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An exploration of the factors affecting the diffusion of Advanced Costing techniques: a comparative analysis of two surveys (1996-2005)

Cinquini, Lino and Collini, Paolo and Marelli, Alessandro and Tenucci, Andrea (2008): An exploration of the factors affecting the diffusion of Advanced Costing techniques: a comparative analysis of two surveys (1996-2005).

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The issue of cost calculation has been largely debated in the last years under the pressure of the perceived lost of relevance of the so called "traditional cost accounting approaches". The enthusiasm for new management accounting techniques has often driven most of attention towards technical or theoretical aspects of the proposed new cost models. In particular, Activity-Based Costing (ABC) implementation literature pinpoints a large number of studies that have looked at technical and organizational/behavioral factors that influence effective implementation. Recently a great attention has been paid by researchers on the contingent factors affecting the adoption of advanced management accounting techniques and the influence of the variables that drive towards higher levels of cost system sophistication. The need is felt for insightful studies regarding processes and contingent variables working through time in relation with these changes. Improved analysis can be obtained by undertaking replication studies based on larger number of responses and/or across geographic and cultural borders. Whitin the boundaries of a contingent framework analysis, this paper has provided additional insights into areas relating to factors influencing the level of sophistication of product cost systems in Italy. The paper presents the comparison of two survey results carried on in a ten years distance on the same sample of Italian largest companies. These two long-distance surveys provide the opportunity to assess the changes occurred in the companies that in 1996 declared the adoption of (or the interest in adopting) ABC and Target costing (Cinquini et al., 1999).Moreover, the time elapsed could allow the perception about adopters’ behavior, along different stages of the diffusion process of advanced costing techniques. The research findings pinpoint that only “importance of cost information” and “cost structure”, among the contextual variables considered in the more recent survey responses, are positive and significant in relation with increasing in implementation of advanced costing techniques. This outcome could open to further studies to assess whether or not adopters are moving from a “fad and fashion” behavior of the early stages, to a more rational approach in which the matching between management needs and tools potentiality is maximized.

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