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Cost Accounting in Germany and Japan

A Comparative Analysis

Series:

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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3 Empirical analysis

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3.1 Design of the empirical investigation Definition of the sample 3.1.1 In this study German and Japanese medium-sized companies with between 250 and 2,000 employees were mail-surveyed. Small companies are not addressed in this study because they often lack resources and specialized employees to install comprehensive cost accounting systems. Recommendations on how to design comprehensive systems could thereby hardly be derived. Large companies are also excluded from the sample to avoid dependence between the German and Japanese samples.958 It is expected that medium- sized companies are less exposed to globalization than larger ones and thus more likely represent ‘domestic’ cost accounting (section 1.2.6).959 Besides company size the sample is further limited to three industries. Previous studies on cost accounting have often narrowed their investigation to manufacturing industries.960 However, the economic relevance of this group of industries has decreased over the years. For this reason and to test Shields’ assumption that cost accounting differs more strongly across industries than across countries,961 three industries are investigated. The explanato- ry power and the scope of application of this study significantly depend upon the chosen industries. A thoughtful selection of the three industries is therefore required. The indus- tries have to be economically significant, sufficient companies must be available for con- tact, and they should be homogeneous. Furthermore, the industries should significantly differ in their requirements for cost accounting, because Germany and Japan constitute very distinctive countries in cost accounting as well. Hence, to test whether cost account- ing differs more...

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