پشتیبان تصمیم گیری مدیریت در خصوص اطلاعات حسابداری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|9940||2002||13 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : European Management Journal, Volume 20, Issue 1, February 2002, Pages 82–94
This paper is about the relationship between management decisions and accounting information. Management decisions have consequences in different functional areas, departments, and different companies along the value chain. Accounting information regarding decisions aims to translate as many as possible of the diverse consequences of a decision alternative into a single financial unit of measure. This makes such information both powerful and weak: various sources of information are integrated to allow trade-offs, but operational richness gets lost in the translation. The research is based on case studies and identifies situations in which managers find accounting information useful to support decision-making: (1) when they must make a significant, new or rarely taken decision, (2) when they must take new considerations into account, and (3) when operational knowledge is distributed across various people from different parts of the organization.
This paper is about operations managers and their usage of accounting information for decision-making. It is an important area for management research to improve the usefulness of accounting information for managers, because research has shown that managers are often dissatisfied with the accounting information they receive (McKinnon and Bruns, 1992). Clearly, we have to understand better what kind of accounting information operations managers use or would like to use for making decisions. Zimmerman (1997) describes two purposes of internal accounting systems: to provide some of the knowledge necessary for planning and decision-making and to help motivate and monitor people in organizations. This paper is about the first of these two purposes. Studies about when and how managers use accounting information for decision-making in operations are scarce (see for example Kaplan, 1983, Jönsson and Grönlund, 1988, Fry et al., 1995 and Ahrens, 1997). The motivation for this study is to give a better understanding of the interactions between management decision-making and accounting information. We focus on the operations function of profit organizations.1 Managers frequently have to make complex decisions, because of shorter product life-cycles, a greater variety of products and services, more rapid changes in technology, less predictability of customer preferences, less heterogeneity of customers, and a greater number of different markets and distribution channels (Gilmore and Pine, 1997, Lampel and Mintzberg, 1996 and Anderson et al., 1997). ‘Managers are hungry for better information to support their work’ according to McKinnon and Bruns (1992). Many studies have found that managers want more timely accounting information, incorporating external and non-accounting data, focussed on a range of functional areas and decisions, if there is more uncertainty of the environment and the task and if there are more interdependencies between organizational units and between tasks (Chenhall and Morris, 1986, Chenhall and Morris, 1995, Gul and Chia, 1994 and Chong, 1996). However, managers often consider the management accounting information that is provided as not very useful for decision-making and they would like to have better information (Karmarkar et al., 1990 and Sullivan and Smith, 1993). Libby and Waterhouse (1996) report that accounting information systems are mainly changed to improve decision support information, which is another indication that accounting information is considered useful for supporting decisions. We define ex ante accounting information as information about the expected financial impact of a decision alternative on one or more financial criteria (e.g. net present value, profit). A decision-maker can use this information before choosing a particular course of action. There are many situations, however, in which operations managers do not use accounting information to evaluate decisions beforehand, even when they make complex decisions that have a significant financial impact. McKinnon and Bruns (1992) describe, for example, that most production plans have a medium-length time horizon, frequently about three months. Production planning is closely tied to sales forecasts and these are revised each month. Managers check existing factors (labour force numbers, inventories, machine capacities, etc.) versus new needs in revised forecasts and make changes (e.g. they hire or layoff workers, revise work schedules, find new suppliers or change existing contracts to accommodate new materials needs, or they revise process schedules, set up times, line change times, inventory levels, etc.). McKinnon and Bruns (1992) conclude that these decisions are often made without financial evaluation. Scapens et al. (1996) and Sillince and Sykes (1995) and Sillince and Sykes (1995) also provide examples of important decisions for which managers do not use accounting information. Mouritsen and Bekke (1999), as another example, describe a situation in which decisions were only based on consequences on the dimension of time, instead of cost. Accounting information is not likely to be useful for every decision problem, because it has specific advantages and disadvantages. Management decisions in operations often have consequences for different dimensions, and trade-offs between these dimensions must be made, e.g. number of units produced, lead-time of processes, reliability of processes, service towards customers, inventory levels, capacity utilization levels, number of different products. Accounting information can be used to translate these different dimensions into a common financial dimension. Accounting information uses formalized categories for collecting and reporting information that creates a common language with which members of the organization can communicate. Formalization permits the transmission of information with fewer symbols and this facilitates the coordination between different functions that need to provide input to the decision-making process (Galbraith, 1973). However, accounting information is also an imperfect representation of the underlying decision problem, since not all aspects involved can be quantified perfectly in financial numbers (Galbraith, 1973). Data have been gathered in case studies of eight different companies. In all our case studies ex ante accounting information is being used with the explicit goal of displaying the economic consequences of management decisions in operations. The companies did not have this information before each case project started, and this lack of information is uncertainty in Galbraith's (1973) definition. Why did these companies invest resources in figuring out these economic consequences of decisions? Many management decisions in operations are not explicitly analysed for their economic consequences, so why was it done in these cases? The contribution of this paper is to identify a number of situations in which decision-makers consider the use of ex ante accounting information to be important. In other words: we identify situations in which ‘money’ is a useful common language to express the various consequences of a decision: (1) when a decision is rarely taken or completely new, (2) when new considerations must be taken into account when making a familiar decision, and (3) when knowledge about the various consequences is dispersed across people/departments. The paper is structured as follows: In the second section we present a literature review to summarize the existing knowledge on the topic. The method is described in the third section. In the fourth section we present case studies to develop explanations for the use of ex ante accounting information for management decisions in operations. The fifth section concludes the paper.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This paper discussed the role of ex ante accounting information for operations management decisions. These decisions have different kinds of operational consequences, which are expressed in different units of measurement. Ex ante accounting information is a conversion of as many operational effects as possible into accounting numbers, in order to integrate these various consequences using a common unit of measurement. We used case studies to understand situations in which managers would use accounting information in this potentially useful way. We identified three such situations. Ex ante accounting information helped in resolving uncertainty that arise when managers, firstly, had to make a new or infrequent decision, or, secondly, when they had to take new considerations into account when making a familiar decision. In such situations managers had no experience with trading-off the various consequences of the decision, and it was helpful to use accounting information as the common unit of measurement for integrating and weighing these various consequences. Thirdly, they used ex ante accounting information when knowledge regarding operational consequences was dispersed across different people, from different organizational functions, departments, hierarchical levels, or different organizations. Because of that distribution of knowledge, there was a need to exchange information, so that the various operational consequences could be integrated when evaluating a decision. Translating operational knowledge into accounting information helped in the exchange of information between departments, companies, functional specialists, etc. in a condensed form. However, we found that the translation of operational consequences into accounting numbers was often far from perfect. The remarks of Chapman (1997) are very relevant here about looking at accounting numbers in close connection with an operational understanding. It was generally complex to analyse the various effects. Students and researchers had to make use of the knowledge of people working in different functions and at different hierarchical levels in the companies: accounting people, production people, logistics/distribution, sales, marketing, etc. It usually took a lot of time to try to bring together such knowledge in one ‘model’ of the decision. This required a thorough understanding of the operations. A limitation of the present study is that in all our cases we have assumed that management was interested in ex ante accounting information. This seems a reasonable assumption, because they provided the resources that were required to develop such information. However, with this empirical material it was not possible to investigate situations where management was not interested in ex ante accounting information, because we have not looked at organizations that have not sought such information. Furthermore, generalizing from these cases is difficult. Nevertheless, the cases increased our understanding of why managers may use ex ante accounting information to support their decisions. For future research, it would be interesting to study in more detail the processes by which managers use ex ante accounting information. As Chapman (1997) writes, ‘the process through which we might expect accounting to become a tool for learning however is more complex and revolves around the meaning attached to accounting numbers’. Future research could study how accounting information can be part of a learning process.