Accounting for cooperation : case study of swedish vertical supply relationships

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköpings universitet

Abstract: During the last decades a combination of business trends has caused companies to rely increasingly on relationships with other firms. Despite the popularity of inter-organizational relationships, evidence shows that many inter-organizational relationships fall short of meeting the expectations of their participants or fall for other reasons. It has been claimed that the degree to which efficiency is created is dependent on the information availability to the decision-makers; in order to assess the benefits and the results of the cooperation, there should be some arrangements by the parties done. The purpose of the study is therefore to provide an empirical evidence of the existing management accounting practice in vertical company relationships, how parties in the relationships use management accounting systems and financial information to determine effective and efficient use of resources through planning, co-ordination and evaluation.When this project started, it was expected that in practice this approach would result in systems that support the relationships and provide the foundations for realising the benefits. The findings provide unexpected results, i.e. the parties in the case rarely use management accounting knowledge or systems in managing relationships. However, the use of management accounting related decisions is almost a daily responsibility for the parties involved in relationships management. The reasons for such a situation might be the prevailing technical culture of most companies. This focuses on quality and processes and treats accounting and control as a staff function that is unnecessary in relationships management. Due to the shortage of funds and initiative the supplier companies often lack expertise and management information systems. However, the case investigated as well as other research evidence shows that decision-making based on management accounting information is becoming more common in managing the relationships and even more benefits could be achieved from improved accounting knowledge use.The mismatch between the empirical data and the expectations could possibly be influenced by two factors. First, it is possible that the case analysed represents a practical example which does not match the ideal case, and therefore the management practices illustrated might have room for changes. The second possibility is that the theories referred to in the thesis, do not represent exactly the likely practical scenarios, and accordingly these theories could be enhanced to better explain inter-organisational practices.

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