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Title: Exploring marketing managers' use of accounting information : a case study of the Portuguese fashion retail sector
Author: Franco, Rafael Antonio Serralheiro
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2014
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Abstract:
The management accounting literature (e.g., Cooper and Kaplan 1988b; Shillinglaw 1982) argues that cost information is beneficial for marketing management in order to improve the business profitability. Accounting for strategic management also proposes the use of accounting information on cost drivers, business strategy, market and competitors (e.g., Shank and Govindarajan 1993). In the accounting and control literature it is also suggested that a company gains if it includes interactive control systems, with the participation of the various functional areas, including marketing, in addition to the traditional diagnostic systems (Simons 1995b). Moreover, the marketing literature states that there is a loss of influence and stature of the marketing department (Webster Jr et al. 2005) and relates this in part to the lack of performance measures (see Ambler 2003b; McGovern et al. 2004; Nath and Mahajan 2008), particularly the financial ones (e.g., Schultz and Gronstedt 1997). The marketing literature also recognises the usefulness of cost accounting information (e.g., Dunne and Wolk 1977; Kirpalani and Shapiro 1973; Winter 1979), in particular the information from the activity-based costing systems for marketing management (e.g., Goebel et al. 1998; Lere 2001). Although the literature in both accounting and marketing note benefits from using accounting information, the interaction, communication and the exchange of information between marketing and accounting departments is poor (Phillips and Halliday 2008; Srivastava et al. 1998) and little researched (De Ruyter and Wetzels 2000; McManus and Guilding 2008). The purpose of this research is to understand what influences the ability of the accounting system to meet the managers’ demand of accounting information, as well as why and how marketing managers are demanding accounting information. In keeping with the exploratory and explanatory research nature of the research an interpretative case study was conducted (see Lukka and Modell 2010; Mason 2002; Yin 2009). Two companies were selected from the Portuguese fashion retail sector (cf. Perloff and Salop 1985; Snyder 1989; Swartz 1983). The data was collected through semi-structured interviews, observation, and documents. The analysis and comparison of these two cases revealed that the use of accounting information was influenced by both structural and functional factors. From the structural point of view, it was important for the two companies to have very detailed accounting information in the system and have the financial and non-financial databases integrated. The mentality of the management control staff – oriented towards the real needs of the managers – was also a key factor. From the functional point of view, it was observed that two complementary forms of transmission of accounting information contributed to the effectiveness of its use. The self-service access to updated information and both automated and customised reports, contributed the accounting information being frequently accessed and interpreted by all managers – particularly commercial and sales managers. The face-to-face presentation and discussion of management accounting reports positively influenced the collective use of accounting information – in order to diagnose problems, find solutions and align the various managers in the implementation of plans. As a result, these interactions were still opportunities for mutual learning. Managers learned the potential of the accounting system and accountants perceived the specific needs of each manager. Therefore, it enabled both financial and management accountants to create and to maintain the management accounting system adapted to the managers' demand. Managers in both companies seek information to analyse sales, control costs and manage profitability. In one of the companies the information was also used strategically – the cost drivers, the market situation and the competitors’ accounting information were analysed. In one company, the accounting information was also used to protect the marketing department, i.e., the accounting information was used to maintain or increase the funds allocated to the marketing budget. In this particular case of marketing performance measurement, the unit of analysis was the marketing project and the metric was the contribution to profits. In conclusion, the marketing managers in these companies do seek management accounting information. Regular face-to-face, multi-functional and multi-hierarchical interaction is a key factor for the use of the accounting system; this is where managers learn the potential of the accounting system and accountants understand the real managers’ needs of accounting information.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.B.A.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.626979  DOI: Not available
Keywords: accounting ; management accounting ; marketing ; performance measurement ; clothing ; retailing ; case study ; qualitative research ; Portugal
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