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Cost Accounting in Germany and Japan

A Comparative Analysis


Matthias Moeschler

Cost accounting has developed differently across countries due to cross-national variance in national financial reporting systems, education and culture. Differences in cost accounting impede a uniform and coherent business management in multinational companies. For this reason it is necessary to sensitize practitioners for national specifics in cost accounting. This study empirically shows that significant differences prevail between German and Japanese cost accounting systems due to variances in national culture and the education of cost accountants. It further provides recommendations for practitioners how to install successful cost accounting systems.


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The different developments of accounting systems affect the construct of current cost ac- counting practices in Japan and Germany. In general, accounting theory and its practices from not only UK/USA but also Germany were introduced into Japan at the early stage of establishing Japanese management systems. The accounting systems from different cultur- al backgrounds gradually took root, being eventually modified to fit the Japanese cultural and institutional contexts in organizations. Japanese companies developed a distinct approach to cost accounting. However, cost management tools like target costing were intensively discussed in literature, little is known in Western countries about the particularities of Japanese cost accounting apart from some anecdotal evidence. This lack of research is the starting point for the thesis of Matthias Moeschler. Knowing the particularities of cost accounting in Japan, UK/USA and Germany is valuable to enhance national cost accounting by identifying successful foreign systems and practices as well as to manage multinational companies by sensitizing practitioners about cross-national differences in cost accounting. There are many comparative management accounting studies so far, however few capture the relationships of culture and cost accounting practices. Matthias Moeschler has carried through a comprehensive study with highly theoretical and practical relevance. His study provides several new empirical findings while considering for methodological particulari- ties in comparative management accounting research. Matthias Moeschler has analyzed 626 responses from Japan and Germany to empirically demonstrate differences in cost accounting between both countries. Utilizing the data from the questionnaire obtained from Japanese and German companies, he further...

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