Accounting and Management Control Systems
Achieving good management control - which includes utilising an organisations management accounting systems - is a vital element in successful entities. There have been a number of recent instances where an organisations management (accounting) controls have proved to be weak and this has had a detrimental impact on the company, for example: Barings Bank, Enron, World-Com, Farepak, Northern Rock, XL.Com, Lehman Bros, Woolworths, Setanta, BP and Goldtrail-Sun4U-Kiss Flights.
Achieving effective control in todays complex and volatile economic environment, however, means that management accountants are faced by some considerable challenges - and also, it can be argued, by some significant opportunities, too (see Poundland, for example).
With this situation in mind, the overall approach taken by this unit is to identify some of the most notable performance issues faced by organisations. Then, by drawing on both conceptual and empirical (real-world) perspectives, the means by which management accounting systems can be best developed to assist and support the management control of these operations is considered.
These are interesting and challenging times for management accountants. Indeed, a number of important new management accounting techniques have been developed in recent years, while the relevance and usefulness of some of the more traditional management accounting tools are being increasingly questioned. It is certainly a field in which both students and practitioners alike are strongly advised to keep themselves up-to-date with current ideas and emerging developments - or risk being left dangerously behind.
Ethics and Sustainability Accounting
In the past accounting has often been seen as an activity solely concerned with finance, measurement and rules. This has certainly been the core of the role of the accountant in practice. However, in a world concerned with global warming, water and resource shortages and decreasing biodiversity, not to mention human suffering and a disavowal of basic human rights in many parts of the world, there is an increasing role for accountants to play.
As long ago as 1987, the Brundtland Report to the United Nations called for a more sustainable future through sustainable development which it defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In the 20 plus years since the report more and more organisations around the globe have become sustainability aware. There has been a huge growth in corporate social responsibility and organisations are, for a variety of reasons, keen to measure the benefits accruing from their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities and to report on their activities.
Accountants, and management accountants in particular, are key participants in both these areas. Providing information for decision-makers is a core activity for management accountants and developing key performance indicators and producing pertinent management reports are part and parcel of their raison detre. In a world urgently looking for sustainable development it is time for accountants to step up to the plate.
This unit explores sustainability reporting, stakeholder engagement, full cost accounting and organisational change in the light of sustainability. It also visits ethical theory with a view to understanding why individuals and subsequently organisations act the way they do and what this might mean for sustainability.
The unit content and assessment strategy has been designed to encourage you to develop your research and presentation skills. You are encouraged to develop and present coherent arguments in the form of written work and a video presentation.