Management Accounting Practices in Japan

Topics: Management accounting, Cost, Cost accounting Pages: 20 (4674 words) Published: July 28, 2013
Journal of Accounting & Finance
Volume 13 No. 2
September 1999

Manasement Accountins Practices in Japanese Manufacturing Firms; An Empirical investigation

Hema Wijewardena

During the last'few decades there has been a dramatic change in the business and technological environment, specially due to the increased use of new manufacturing practices and technologies such as Just-in-Time (JIT), Total Quality Management (TQM) and Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CM). Consequently, it is argued that management accounting systems have to change in response to the needs of this new environment (Bruggeman and Slagmulder, 1995). However, in the recentpast accountants in Western countries, particularly in the US, have been criticised for not being able to adapt their management accounting practices to the changing technology and methods of production in manufacturing enterprises operating in highly competitive markets (Dilts and Russell, 1985; Brimson, 1986; Johnson and Kaplan, 1987; Sillince and Sykes, 1995). By contrast, several writers have hailed the Japanese management accounting practices as a major contributor to Japan's success in achieving a dominant position in the global competitiveness. Furthermore, they have contended that Western organisations may become more competitive and ultimately more successful if they mimic more of the practices of prosperous Japanese (Suzaki, 1985; Johnson, 1988, 1993; Ho well, 1989; Morgan and Weerakoon, 1989, Hiromoto, 1998; Kharbanda and Stallwovthy, 1991; Howell and Sakurai/1992). Furthermore, many textbooks and other publications have dealt with the various aspects of Japanese management accounting practices (Monden ar-J Sakurai, 1989; Lee, 1987; Yoshikawa, 199 i). However, empirical studies that have investigated the application of these practices are extremely sparse, particularly in recent years. Moreover, some of the studies done in Japan repor.ted,Q.rjJyJnjheJapanese language. Hence, there is certainly a Management Accounting Practices in Japanese Manufacturing Firms...

need for more empirical studies examining the various aspects of management accounting practices in Japan. Findings of such studies/ while being useful to academics in. their teaching and research, can provide helpful comparable information for manufactures in other countries for assessing their own strengths and’ weaknesses. -Therefore, based on a questionnaire survey of Japanese manufacturing companies, this paper attempts to present an analysis of some latest empirical evidence on several important aspects of the management accounting practices in Japan.

Questionnaire Survey

The major objective of this study was to gain someinsights into the current state of Japanese management accounting practices" through a survey of the perceptions ot accountants operating in manufacturing companies in Japan. To achieve this objective, a questionnaire covering major topics commonly used in standard management accounting textbooks was designed. Initially,-the draft questionnaire was pilot-tested on a small group of company accountants before it was revised* and finalised on the basis of their responses. The final questionnaire was mailed to the 1000 largest manufacturing companies in Japan, which were selected on the basis of their total assets. The addresses of these companies were taken from the 1995 Japan Company Handbook. Since the names -of individuals were not available, the letter of request attached to the questionnaire was commonly addressed to the head of the accounting division in each company. Both the letter of request and the questionnaire were presented in the Japanese language. The survey was completed in 1997 and the usable answers received amounted to 217, giving a response rate of 21.7 per cent. Given the low response usually associated with most mail surveys in Japan, this response rate was considered reasonably adequate for our exploratory Jtudy. A profile...
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