Last Updated 21 Apr 2020

The Role of Accounting in Organizational Control

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THE ROLE OF ACCOUNTING IN ORGANIZATIONAL CONTROL By: Abdur Rehman (IIUI) Table of Contents Introduction 3 Accounting4 Key Theories in Organizational Control6 * Key Theories8 Role of Accounting in Organization’s Control10 * Working of Control Theory at Workplace12 Conclusion13 References 14 online sources15 Introduction Accounting is the gathering and compilation of information for decision makers – including investors, managers, lenders, public and the regulators. Accounting schemes influence performance and management and have affects on organizations, departments, and even countries.

Information controlled within an accounting scheme has the influence to manipulate actions. Accounting information systems are largely strong behavioral drivers in the perspective of a corporation - where bottom line and profits are every day concerns. In this paper we will discuss the role of accounting plays in organizations control. Accounting has impact on each and every aspect of the organization from record keeping to manufacturing and from sales to further investment.

It is accounting concepts and details in shape of Financial Accounting, Cost Accounting, Management Accounting or whatever you may call which gives insight of an organization for the stake holders to think and plan for future. Accounting prompt owners to expand, managers to plan, equity investors to invest, bankers to lend, tax officials to calculate and buyers to spend etc. we will briefly discuss different calculation concepts which are based on the accounting data which effect investment and leads to ultimate organizations control. Organizations are sets of agreements among ersons or groups who are aggravated by self-interest for the collection of resources and contribute to the information to achieve control in the organization. Accounting and control provides a similar utility in organizations. We shall try to highlight some control theories and role of accounting in up-coming pages. Accounting Accounting is the main means of serving managers of an organization, potential equity investors, creditors and bond holders, equity investors, creditors and bond holders of an organization, customers and suppliers of an organization and other stake holders to take decisions.

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Accounting is somewhat to facilitate people in their individual lives a lot as it affects organizations. We all use bookkeeping thoughts when we map what we are going to accomplish with our wealth. We have to chart out how much of it we will use and how much we will keep. We may engrave a chart, recognized as a financial plan, or we may merely maintain it in our minds. Though, when people usually talk about accounting it means the kind used by trade and other business organizations who also keep a record of it which is then used by different stakeholders including owners, buyers, investors, tax officials, banks etc. or a variety of rationales. (Frank Wood, 1997, p 4) Generally speaking Accounting can be defined as “distinguishing, manipulative and matching economic information to let well-informed selection and decision by users of the information. (Frank Wood, 1997, p 253) Accounting can also be defined as "the language of business" because it is the essential device for recording, coverage, and evaluating economic proceedings and dealings that influence business ventures.

Accounting procedures gather all the aspects of a business's financial presentation including from capital expenses, payroll costs, and other responsibility to sales proceeds and owners' equity. Financial data enclosed in accounting documents is then interpreted and used as essential in reaching to the actual picture of a business's true financial comfort. Equipped with said meaningful knowledge, businesses can make suitable financial, managerial and strategic decisions about their future opportunities; on the other hand, unfinished or incorrect accounting data can destroy a company, no matter its volume or orientation.

Accounting's significance as an indicator of business health in provisions of precedent, current, and upcoming and tool of business steering is replicated in the language of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), which distinct accounting as a "service activity. " Accounting, said the AICPA, is projected "to provide quantitative information, largely financial in character, about economic actions that are intentional to be helpful in reaching at economic decisions, making logical choices among alternative courses of action. " Key Theories in Organizational Control

Organizations are sets of agreements among persons or groups who are aggravated by self-interest for the collection of resources and contribute to the information to achieve control in the organization. All wonders of the world are physical substance which we could see or touch. Civilization has always calculated the deeds of its evolutions by "hardware," from the Pyramids to the Great Wall of China. But, the truth is that world is never ruled by the brilliant engineers rather these greatest achievements of human kind are due to the organization who made these Pyramids or the Great Wall possible.

Similarly bravery of Alexander the Great is legend, but it was organizational skill that made him so great his skills with the sword or horse. Organization plan and process are the unacknowledged "software" of human evolution. Combining a lot of individuals for a common purpose is virtually impossible in-spite of their engineering skills without such software when those individuals are free to select and proceed for their own goals. Accounting and control are the key factors in organization in terms of how they are put together, function, sustain, transformed, and suspend.

Recurring to the computer symbol, if humans and capital are the hardware of organizations, accounting and control are their operating software. Software unites different parts of the computer in their proper association, and makes it possible to function. Accounting and control provides a similar utility in organizations. Considering organizations as a group of agreements among people crafts it easier to see the enabling utility of accounting and control. As organizations are in hundreds of sizes and forms, so the same exists for accounting and control systems.

A broad survey of their mixture and degree is a fine starting point to construct a theory of accounting and control in organizations. A distinct feature of control theory as compare to other personal theories is that it is being derived from the working of mechanical processes. Current modern control theory was originated by Norbet Wiener’s 1948 Cybernetics. Initially it was applied to physical systems however same was applicable to human behavior. It connects multiple disciplines like mathematics, neurophysiology, anthropology, psychology, biology, electrical engineering, etc. t has the capacity to link all such field combine to describe how a system work as a whole. Same is done by dividing the system into specific pieces and studying the relations and connections among them. For the control theory to be applicable on humans, it is important to show that same kind of direct similarities exists among the concepts linked with machines that can also be associated with humans. Certain assumptions are required for control theory to work including; I. Human beings have a system in themselves

II. Society has also a system III. These systems are self amendable This overview shows a simple and easy look of control theory, however the functioning of the theory is quite complex in reality. Therefore, it is necessary to outline and review the components for a greater considerate as well as to be able to relate the theory in helpful, practical, and appropriate ways. Researchers have recognized that control processes are the main and essential ways in which organizations work.

As control theory exploration ranges on many years and based on a number of rich customs, hypothetical limits have reserved it from producing reliable and interpretable practical conclusions and from reaching agreement relating to the character of key associations. However it reveals that we can overcome such problems by synthesizing varied, yet matching, flow of control researches into an academic framework and experiential tests that can more explain the variety of control methods (e. g. the use of norms, rules, monitoring or direct supervision) meant for specific control targets (e. . behavior, input, output etc. ) are applied within specific kinds of control systems (i. e. integrative, bureaucracy, clan, market). Before going into further details, firstly we shall look upon the characteristics of an effective control system. Any organization must develop control systems which contribute to the organizational goals and resources. There are several characteristics, some of which are described as below; I. Focus on vital points: Vital points include all the fields of an organization’s operations that directly contribute to the success of its operations.

For example, controls must be applied where costs can’t be exceeded from a certain amount. II. Incorporation into recognized procedures: For effective controls, procedures must be in line and not disturb operations. III. Acceptance by internal customers: Involvement of employee during making of control design increase its acceptance among internal customers. IV. Timely availability of information: Project costs, deadlines, time period to complete the project, associated costs, priority, etc. must be available in devising any control mechanism.

Any deviation or uninformed workers mostly contribute for failures. V. Economic feasibility: Effective organization control systems gave answers to questions such as, “What it costs? ” “How much it saves? ” or “What is the return on the investment? ” Shortly, comparison of costs with benefits guarantees that the payback of controls prevail over the costs. VI. Correctness: Efficient control systems give truthful information which is valid, reliable, consistent and useful. VII. Unambiguousness: Controls must be easy and simple to recognize.

Control Theory is somewhat difficult to recognize in a hypothetical wisdom and trying to use it for the examination or relevance for problem solving in actual world conditions is likewise complex. Control theory has some similarity with goal setting theory, but this similarity is a more complex as it can help us to link and understood concepts easily with the more complicated aspects of Control Theory, but at the same time it causes confusion on the requirement or utilization of Control Theory. Similarly, jargons used in Control Theory is absent in other similar theories which may become a source of confusion.

Furthermore, Control Theory may looks to be like goal setting theory, however many people have expressed their concern that control theory is more mechanistic to be applied to humans. When examining Control Theory, it must be helpful to kept in mind the similarities, but at the same time linking of concepts must also be kept examined along-with conditions or theory apparatus with care as they may become the basis for more perplexity than the advantage such comparisons produce. Simply Control Theory is a theory in itself, not just Goal Setting Theory. Below are the Key Theories of Organizational Control.

Key Theories Baligaand Jaeger (1984) relates control to procedures “where a person / group or organization decide or deliberately influence what the other person, group or organization will do”. In their words, the monitoring process is at the center of control because in such situation targets are set and performance is evaluated. Control is required in order to make people act according to the best interest of the organization. Ouchi (1979) and his colleagues developed the dominant key theory of organization control which forecasts the option among control methods as a utility of the task perspective.

Ouchi divides control mechanisms into three categories: markets, bureaucracies and clans. However it has two limitations; I. It predicts the options of control alternates but not the effect of those alternates on performance. II. It restricts those choices to a single control alternate in a specific context and do not allow the choice of a combination or portfolio of control alternates. Merchant’s (1985) define three parts classification where results and action controls looks like to some degree of bureaucratic controls and clan controls overlap with social controls.

Results control is normally discussed in financial results whereas action controls include physical and administrative behavioral restraint. Social group influence, preparation, individual self-control, rewards as well as assortment and appointment procedures comprise of personnel controls. Simons (1995) has divided in four categories for control systems including use, Beliefs and boundary systems and diagnostic and interactive control. From such division, diagnostic controls looks like the traditional results controls or accounting, where measures may be non-financial.

However, accounting information can also be used by the managers interactively through highlighting the most important events in usual interaction with subordinates. Boundary systems can be taken somewhat similar to action controls, and Merchant’s (1985) social controls can comprise of belief systems, which are a form of positive control posing no limitations but presenting possibility for prospect development. Klein explains the integrated control theory which defines that adding cognitive communication between the comparator and the effecter.

Moreover it is the communication among the two which depicts that in human’s the sensor, principles, or behavior and not a set piece. Given below is the list of the main components of the integrated control theory model. I. Goal II. Behavior III. Performance IV. Feedback (Sensor) V. Comparator VI. Error VII. Attribution Search VIII. Subjective Expected Utility of Goal Attainment IX. Individual and Situational Characteristics, Goal Choice and Cognitive Change X. Behavior Change Role of Accounting in Organization’s Control

Although management control encompasses a broad range of mechanisms and practices besides accounting, however accounting form an essential element of the control systems. Accounting can waive off the gap between a headquarters and its subsidiaries, as it is a communication which can make local problems a global substance Therefore, accounting explains operations making performance evident and consequently handy. However, the accountability system is habitually quite a means for headquarters to keep an eye on and get involved in subsidiaries’ dealings than a means to chart the subsidiaries according to their individual judgment.

This means that accounting also produces and constructs distance in stipulations of gap and time by signifying the accountability structures. In addition, accounting can defend a subsidiary in opposition to the headquarters as long as the exposure necessities are correctly met. Accounting and control systems plays an important role in acquisitions and mergers which is mainly used to expand business to foreign countries. In the words of Jones (1985) accounting controls may be of significant importance during the initial phase of the business after an acquisition.

According to him, a lot of changes in accounting systems and control may cause a negative impact and results in undesirable outcomes. Granlund (2003) suggests that accounting system acts as important factor in a merger, as an integrator of the organizations. However Roberts (1990), advises that accounting controls may impede the development of a profitable longer term strategy. In a business's accounting system when the reports are prepared in different formats and essential data is maneuver or recapitulate in different customs to make possible decision making.

Accountants unite these data objects in a variety of ways to give information to internal as well as external users. Said data holds information potentially pertinent to a wide range of groups. Along-with business owners, who depend on accounting data to measure their enterprise's financial development, accounting data can convey relevant and important information to creditors, investors, managers, and others who coordinate with the business. Accounting is mainly used for three major purposes; I. External reporting: these reports are used by the creditors, investors, outside parties and government authorities.

II. Routine internal reporting: Periodically generated reports which are used by the managers to take internal decisions. III. Non-routine internal reporting: Such kind of reports is generated to support decisions and different projects which come-up due to need. It is pertinent to mention that while origination of different kind of reports by using different formats, basic is summarized and manipulated to facilitate for decision making. However accounting can be broadly divided into following distinct divisions: * Financial Accounting * Management Accounting

Financial accounting is a branch of accounting that provides people outside the business—such as investors or loan officers—with qualitative information regarding an enterprise's economic resources, obligations, financial performance, and cash flow. Financial accounting measures and records business transactions and provides financial statements that are based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Executive compensation is tied to profit figures reported in the financial statements and equity share valuation is also based to a large extent on these financial statements.

Management accounting, on the other hand, refers to accounting data used by business owners, supervisors, and other employees of a business to measure their enterprises’ strength and operating styles. Management accounting as a discipline focuses on accounting information that facilitates decision making by managers of the organization. Accounting data is also used in Cost Accounting which is defined as a type of accounting procedure that aspire to incarcerate a company's expenses of manufacture by appraising the contribution costs of every step of manufacture as well as predetermined or fixed costs such as depreciation in capital equipment.

Cost accounting firstly gauge and witness these costs independently, then make a contrast of input results to output or actual results to aid company management in measuring financial performance. Accounting has many roles in today’s modern business. It helps business to determine the profit or loss for doing business in a specific time period. It helps businesses to determine the taxes which become due. Accounting is information which is used by the investors to decide whether to invest in a specific firm or not.

In current world, standard accounting practices commonly known as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) are used to ensure compliance to all laws and to avoid fraud. From the basic accounting principles, it includes balance sheet equation of assets = liabilities + stockholder's equity where source of information for the balance sheet is the income statement which is derives by revenues - expenses = net income (loss). Such data is used to prepare financial statements including statement of retained earnings.

These financial accounting reports work as barometer to identify the taxes along with other ratios which are used by the investors including current ratio, debt to total assets ratio. All of these reports contribute an important role in today's businesses irrespective of the fact that whether it may be a multi-billion dollar organization or a small store. These financial reports are not only helpful in providing valuable information to the investors but also gave a snap shot of the business to the owners at any point in time. Working of Control Theory at Workplace

Control theory has multiple applications at workplace. For example, to improve employee working, managers must ensure to have specific and challenging goals which result in improved performance than ambiguous goals. Vague goals like “try harder” or “do your best” give no fine relative standard and through feedback. With no specific standard and apparent opinion, an employee will not be able to identify errors and then will not employ in behavior alteration that improves performance. Conclusion Accounting is related with gathering, examining and corresponding economic information.

Accounting information supports in many important decisions, like assisting users in making well managed decisions, in relation to the effective allocation of scarce resources. Accounting has a long history and it is being seen as socially constructed i. e. it is practiced by people for people and therefore it is more of an art rather than a science. Unlike other professions, which have a body of hypothetical knowledge to depend on to make choices, accounting has evolved as a craft with few rules and little to no theoretical knowledge underpinning its practice and function.

Due to alteration in social and economic movement, accounting has been bared to criticism for failing to be more responsive and adaptable. As a result the profession has moved forward to restore accountings position in society by taking a number of initiatives to put into practice theory.

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