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Management accounting in companies adapting to structural change and volatility in transition economies: a South African study

South Africa has undergone fundamental political and structural changes over the last decade. These are affecting the operations of companies in South Africa both directly and indirectly through associated market volatility. This paper reports on research into management accounting techniques in South Africa and changes in those techniques. The methodology comprises interpretation of 139 responses to a postal questionnaire. Seventy-seven U.K. questionnaire responses provide a benchmark for comparison. Analysis of the data shows significant changes in the perceived benefits derived from management accounting techniques in South Africa over the period 1996–2002 and that these benefits differ from the U.K. equivalents. The analysis also shows that some of the factors causing management accounting change in South Africa are different from those at work in the U.K. The research endorses prior findings relating to ‘contingent factors’ influencing management accounting but also identifies possible new factors such as changed stakeholder pressures. In addition it introduces a new debate about which specific management accounting techniques are particularly influenced by structural change and uncertainty.

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