Management Accounting, Strategy and Organisational Control

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Wim Van Der Stede OLD 2.18

and others.


This course is available on the MSc in Accounting and Finance, MSc in Accounting, Organisations and Institutions, MSc in Law and Accounting and MSc in Management, Organisations and Governance. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Other students may be admitted only with the agreement, in writing, of the MSc (Accounting) Course Tutor, if they have sufficient academic background knowledge and if places permit. This course cannot be taken in conjunction with AC411 Accounting, Strategy and Control.

Course content

This course provides an advanced overview of current developments in the thought and practice of management accounting, strategy, and organisational control. The course consists of two modules.

Organisational and strategic aspects of management accounting and control systems

This module focuses on the organisational and strategic aspects of management accounting and, in particular, the design of planning and performance measurement systems. It provides an insight into current theoretical and practical developments in management control. Management control is an essential function of management to ensure that the organisation's objectives and strategies are carried out effectively; good management control increases the probability of organisational success. This module focuses on the use of results controls, that is, those that involve measurement and evaluation of financial and non-financial performance. The module explores the key decisions that must be made in using results controls, such as choices of performance measures, performance standards and targets, and performance-based incentives. Limitations of traditional financial performance measures are discussed, such as their tendency to make managers excessively short-term oriented, which leads into related issues of corporate governance.

An economics, information systems and context-specific perspective on management accounting and control systems

Continuing on the organisational control theme from Module 1, the first part of this module focuses primarily on inter-organisational controls and the difficulties involved in organisational control of fluid, inter-organisational settings and configurations, such as joint-ventures and various types of alliances, often involving global alliance partners.

The second part of this module then shifts to, and focuses on, the design of costing systems, one of the important tasks of the management accountant. For managers using information from such costing systems in their decision making, it is important to understand the mechanisms by which these data are collected. This module discusses what it is exactly that costing systems try to approximate, which methods are available, what can go wrong in the costing of products and services, and how we can most effectively and efficiently improve the costing approaches. As such, there is an emphasis on cost information for decisions and strategic cost analysis.

Further detailed choice of subjects will be determined by those lecturing on the course.


20 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the MT. 20 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the LT. 2 hours of lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

A variety of types of assignments are given for class discussion including exercises and case studies. Many classes examine complex cases with advance case preparation and in-class participation being an absolute requisite. Two pieces of written work, or equivalent, per term are assessed, but the grades will not count towards the overall course assessment.

Indicative reading

Detailed reading lists will be given out at the start of each part of the course. Illustrative references include: K Merchant and W Van der Stede, Management Control Systems: Performance Measurement, Evaluation, and Incentives (Prentice Hall, 2012).


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Accounting

Total students 2012/13: 104

Average class size 2012/13: 25

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills