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Abc Survey in Uk

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Management Accounting Research, 2000, 11, 349–362 doi: 10.1006/mare.2000.0135 Available online at http://www.idealibrary.com on

Activity-based costing in the U.K.’s largest companies: a comparison of 1994 and 1999 survey results
John Innes*, Falconer Mitchell† and Donald Sinclair*

This paper reviews the results of two U.K. surveys of activity-based costing (ABC) in the U.K.’s largest companies. These provide an opportunity to assess the changes that have occurred in the ABC adoption status of companies over a recent 5-year period. For the ABC users, some comparative information is provided on the nature of the ABC systems in use, their designers, the uses to which they have been put and the levels of success and importance that participants attribute to them. For the non-users, the reasons for their lack of commitment to ABC are explored. c 2000 Academic Press Key words: activity-based costing; perceptions of success; survey.

1. Introduction Activity-based cost/management (ABC)1 has now maintained a high profile status as an important management accounting innovation for well over a decade (Bjornenak and Mitchell, 1999). However, despite a strong and durable advocacy (Cooper, 1988; Cooper and Kaplan, 1991, 1992, 1998; Kaplan, 1992), several reservations have been expressed concerning (a) the substance of its practical attraction (Bjornenak, 1997; Gosselin, 1997; Malmi, 1999), i.e. that it may be a fad or fashion, engendering a bandwagon effect rather than a genuine and useful technical enhancement, (b) its decision-making relevance (Noreen, 1991; Bromwich and Hong, 1999), i.e. that several restrictive (and practically unlikely) conditions must apply before the ABC information can legitimately be used to generate relevant costs for decisions, and (c) the problematic and costly design, implementation and operation of the systems required for ABC
*Department…...

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