This project involved a seven-year longitudinal case study of a Bank monitoring over time the changes in profit measurement and overhead allocation, product group profitability, benchmarking, customer profitability, budgeting and profitability/performance measures such as return on risk adjusted capital. The overall finding is that the Bank’s profitability reporting (particularly its product group and customer profitability) changed considerably during this seven-year period. The main factors that accountants and managers identified as influencing such changes were four external factors and two internal factors. The four external factors were changes in technology (computers and telecommunications), regulatory change, increasingly competitive global markets and a greater difficulty in attracting customers. The two internal factors were the development of new products leading to a wider product range and a changing management accounting culture. The historical and organizational context of the Bank was also critical in this process of change, and a dynamic contingency model is proposed. This longitudinal case study indicates that more changes are occurring in management accounting practices (such as profitability reporting) than the current evidence from questionnaire surveys and ‘snapshot’ case studies reveals. An area for future research that this study highlights is that although accountants and managers talk in terms of long-term planning and control, the norm is short-term management accounting solutions and managerial reaction to new external developments.
- Profitability analysis
- Profit measurement