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Market pressures and the development of costing practice: The emergence of uniform costing in the U.K. printing industry

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-101
Number of pages27
JournalManagement Accounting Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 1997


Today, uniform cost accounting schemes are no longer in vogue. However in the early part of this century they were a salient feature of costing development both in the U.K. and the U.S.A. This paper is concerned with an archival-based study of the earliest and most enduring of the U.K. uniform costing systems - that developed for the printing industry. The focus is not simply on the nature of the costing scheme but on the key factors which initiated and shaped its development. The role of the emergent trade association for the industry and the market (both factor and product) pressures of the time are identified as contingencies associated with the creation and design of the uniform costing system. The use of the new costing system as an informal basis of cartelisation is also explored. The inherent difficulties of successfully pursuing cartelisation in the printing sector provide a rationale for the eventual problems which the association experienced in achieving adoption of the costing system by its members. The paper therefore provides a historical analysis of the dynamics of one aspect of management accounting development. © 1997 Academic Press Limited.

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