A Framework for the Classification of Management Control Tools - Experiences with Activity-Based Costing in the German Public Sector

University essay from Lunds universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Abstract: Purpose: To find a suitable framework for the categorisation of management control tools as guidance for a purpose-oriented choice of management control tools. This is done by applying the iron triangle in the case of Activity-based costing (ABC) in the German public sector. Thereby the ABC adoption in the German public sector is analysed, including the discussion of purpose-oriented versus trend-driven management. Methodology: A quantitative empirical study among German municipalities is performed. Thereby the data is collected through a web-based questionnaire. The data analysis is done on basis of univariate methods as well as with a logistic regression analysis. Theoretical perspectives: The idea to develop a framework for the purpose-oriented choice of management control tools is based on the idea of contingency theory. Evidence concerning the use of ABC in Germany supplemented with findings from other contexts serves as a starting point for the empirical work in this thesis. Empirical foundation: Empirical data is gathered through a web-based self-completion questionnaire from high-ranked civil servants in German municipalities. The questionnaire is developed based on relevant literature as well as insights from practice which are gained through two pre-interviews. Conclusions: The iron triangle is not found suitable for the categorisation of ABC in the context of the German public sector as its three dimensions ‘time’, ‘cost’ and ‘quality’ do not cover the emerging area of transparency. Concerning the use of ABC in the German public sector the most important influential factor seems to be the size of the municipality while hype tendencies imply a rather trend-driven adoption.

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