Cost accounting traditions differ across countries, especially between Germany and the US/UK. Consequently, multinational companies often face cross-national differences in the design of their subunits’ cost accounting systems. To improve comparability and facilitate control, multinational companies seek to globally align these systems. In this respect, they have to balance the needs of the headquarters and the subunits. By the means of a mixed-method approach, this study analyses the design of cost accounting systems from both perspectives. It finds empirical evidence for cross-case and cross-country differences in the complexity and standardization of cost accounting systems in subunits of German multinational companies and identifies important determinants and success factors. The findings have implications for researchers and practitioners in the field of management accounting.