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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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4 Summary and outlook


4.1 Main findings and contributions of the study Knowledge of cross-national differences in cost accounting is of practical relevance for managing MNC and for enhancing national cost accounting systems by adapting foreign concepts. It is also of theoretical relevance, because it enlarges our knowledge base and offers much greater variance to test hypotheses. Prior comparative research on cost accounting contributes only little practical and theore- tical knowledge due to shortcomings in methodology and most of the prior findings are rather anecdotal than empirically verified. The research objective of this study was to conduct a theory-based and empirical comparison of cost accounting systems between Germany and Japan to provide knowledge of cross-national similarities and differences in cost accounting and their underlying rationale. To increase the explanatory power of this study, methodological shortcomings of prior research were carefully addressed. Further- more, with Germany and Japan two of the three most influential countries in spreading management accounting systems around the world were surveyed that strongly differ in national culture and national institutions. First, a catalog of comparative management accounting research was compiled to assess the state of research. An overview of 112 research projects resulting in 148 publications on comparative management accounting is provided and an in depth analysis of comparative research on cost accounting was carried through in section 1.4. This analysis demonstrates that comparative research should comprehensively address issues in equivalence, apply control variables, and use advanced statistical methods. Explanatory studies that explain cross-national differences should further apply at least one...

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