The Customer Is King. Enthroned or In Exile? An Analysis of the Level of Customer Focus in Leading Management Accounting Textbooks

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In response to fierce criticism of irrelevancy and the need to adapt management accounting (MA) to fully support modern managerial priorities, there is a growing body of MA literature seeking to address the perceived weakness of customer-focused techniques and measures. This paper investigates the impact of this literature on mainstream MA textbooks and, by extension, teaching. The customer-focused content and, in particular, coverage of customer profitability analysis (CPA), is found to be relatively low in quantity and diverse in relation to the choice of techniques being discussed. No generally-accepted way of approaching this area is revealed, perhaps because it is so contingent on circumstances, and it seems that CPA is not yet part of mainstream MA. In the area of customer focus at least, there remain questions over the relevance of mainstream textbooks, teaching and, by further extension, the day-to-day practice of MA.

Keywords: Management accounting; customer concept; customer lifetime value; customer profitability analysis; customer-focused

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand 2: University of Aberdeen Business School, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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