Motivating Contingencies at Early Adopters of Federal Cost Management Accounting Systems

By Geiger, Dale R. | The Government Accountants Journal, Spring 1995 | Go to article overview

Motivating Contingencies at Early Adopters of Federal Cost Management Accounting Systems


Geiger, Dale R., The Government Accountants Journal


Motivation for accounting system development has interested researchers for some time. Motivation for management accounting system development within the United States government is particularly important at this time. Arguably, the largest and most complex organization in history, the federal government is in something of a management crisis. The Chief Financial Officers Act, the Government Performance and Results Act, the Government Management Reform Act, the National Performance Review, the Federal Quality Institute, the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program, and the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board represent recent actions to improve federal management practice. That management accounting is destined to fill an important role in better management is explained in the first paragraph of the recent proposed federal cost accounting standards (FASAB, 1994, p 1):

Today, federal program managers lack the means to understand and control the full cost of programs they administer. This is because existing financial and budgetary systems do not deliver enough useful information for daily management and for improving program operations. Most of the information available to managers is more appropriate for external reporting.

The fact that a few federal organizations already claim working cost accounting systems presents an interesting research opportunity to explore the motivating contingencies that led these few organizations to adopt cost accounting while the vast majority had not. Thus, while much of the empirical work with contingency theory seeks to explain variations among accounting systems, the organizations studied here are selected on the basis of a lack of variation: they all have a cost accounting system. In this study, contingency theory provides a framework or lens to guide the search for patterns among five federal adopters of cost accounting systems.

The Gordon and Miller (1976) contingency theory model suggested three major categories of variables that influence accounting information system development: environment, organization and management style (see Figure 1). (Figure 1 omitted) Empirical studies have researched the importance of various factors on accounting system design. Some have concentrated on environmental dimensions (Govindarajan, 1984), while others have considered the influence of production process and competition (Karmarkar, Lederer, and Zimmerman, 1990). Merchant studied the impact of both size (1981) and technology (1984). Waterhouse and Tiessen (1978) investigated the variables affecting frequency of systems generated reporting. Bruns and Waterhouse (1975) looked at aspects of the budget process.

This research does not seek to test contingency theory, which has been criticized by some for lack of empirical validation (Drazin and Van de Ven, 1985). Indeed, there is no variation in the dependent variable: the existence of a cost accounting system. Contingency theory, specifically the Gordon and Miller model, is used here as a framework to construct the variables and explore the interactions that may have been important in motivating the cost accounting systems' development. In doing so, this study hopes to characterize the fundamental forces associated with cost system development in the federal government.

Methodology

Research conducted by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) provides a point of departure for this study. Since the lack of reliable cost data necessary to evaluate performance, anticipate problems and plan future operations topped the Comptroller General's list of problems in federal management, (GAO/AFMD-85-A) the GAO sought to better understand existing cost accounting practice within the federal government. This effort (GAO/AFMD-90-17) hoped to learn the state of existing systems and to encourage development of improved systems.

GAO selected five federal agencies thought likely to have cost accounting systems: the General Services Administration and the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services and Interior. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Motivating Contingencies at Early Adopters of Federal Cost Management Accounting Systems
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.