Arhive: #2 2011

Misinterpretation of the strategic significance of cost driver analysis: evidence from management accounting theory and practice

This paper traces the development of cost driver theory in the Strategy literature and reflects on misinterpretations of the strategic significance of the theory in related academic disciplines, notably Management Accounting. Management Accounting has largely been responsible for informing costing practice in a wide range of organizational settings. The paper considers one such application- i.e. the case of the Higher Education Funding Councils (HEFC) costing and pricing initiative for UK universities. The project was completed just under five years ago, although details of implementation are still ongoing, to a degree. The systems in place incorporate most of the theoretical flaws outlined in this paper. Rather than providing cost driver analysis to aid the strategic management process in universities, the system appears to represent little more than a compliance and reporting framework between university central administrations and the funding provider, HEFC.