ABSTRACT

Anecdotal evidence shows that multinational enterprises (MNEs) encounter difficulty in imposing their cost-accounting standards internationally because foreign subsidiaries prefer to follow their local cost-accounting traditions. Although prior research has revealed cross-national differences in management accounting, particularly between anglophone and German-speaking countries, the determinants and consequences for cost-accounting systems in foreign subsidiaries of MNEs are largely unexplored. This study therefore investigates the design of cost-accounting systems in German subsidiaries of anglophone MNEs. The empirical results reveal that anglophone cost-accounting traditions prevail in two-thirds of anglophone subsidiaries. Based on new institutional sociology, this study explores the determinants and identifies strong coercive pressures by anglophone parent companies, suggesting that anglophone MNEs standardize their cost-accounting systems globally using their home country cost-accounting traditions. The results also show that both management accountants and managers in German subsidiaries of anglophone MNEs assess their cost-accounting system as worse when it is shaped by anglophone traditions. Managerial implications are discussed.

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