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2010/2011  KAN-SOL_OS42  Accounting and Performance Measurement

English Title
Accounting and Performance Measurement

Course Information

Language English
Point 7,5 ECTS (225 SAT)
Type Mandatory
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course Period Autumn
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Study Board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course Coordinator
Peter Skærbæk
Main Category of the Course
  • Economics, macro economics and managerial economics
Last updated on 29 maj 2012
Marking Scale 7-step scale
Exam Period December/January
Individual oral exam based on a group project (4-5 students, max. 15 A4 pages), cf. the General Degree Regulation § 27 S. (4). The duration of the individual oral exam is 20 minutes (including assessment). The assessment is a total evaluation of the project and the individual oral exam. The exam is external and will be graded by a teacher and an external examiner, cf. the General Degree Regulation §25 S. (1) no.2. Submission of the project to the secretariat is regarded as examination registration and must take place in December 2010. The regular exam will take place in January 2011. The make-up/re-exam takes place in March 2011. If a student is ill during the oral exam, he/she will be able to re-use the project at the make-up exam. If the student was ill during the writing of the project and did not contribute to the project, the make-up/re-exam project can be written individually or in groups (provided the other students are taking the make-up/re-exam). If the student did not pass the regular exam a new or revised project, confer advice from the examiner at the regular exam, must be handed in to a new deadline specified by the line secretariat. The re-exam is an individual oral exam based upon the same group report as for the ordinary exam, with a 3-page supplement
The exam will be an oral exam based on a project – preferably related to the concrete analytical projects performed during the course.
Examination takes place in conjunction with the course in Organizational Design and is based on a project (written reports with oral examination).

The re-exam is an individual oral exam based upon the same group report as for the regular exam, with a 3-page supplement.
Prerequisites for Attending the Exam
Course Content

Aim of the course
Organizations use many different tools and technologies to make themselves transparent and accountable. Examples include activity based costing (ABC), balanced scorecard, user satisfaction surveys, evaluations, quality control, etc. This course analyzes and works with these managerial technologies in order to examine their differences and similarities, their societal and economic effects and their importance for managing organizations. It focuses both on the ‘hard’ principles of the individual technologies and on the ‘soft’ organizational and societal issues related to the design, mobilization and effect of the technologies.

The course covers five themes:
1) Basic issues related to organizations’ production of information about themselves (functions related to control, decision-making, attention, legitimation, etc.)
2) Costs and decision information (in particular ABC)
3) Operations Management and quality focusing on quality processes
4) Performance Measurement – management technologies establishing relations between financial and non-financial key figures (e.g. balanced scorecard, knowledge accounts & business excellence)
5) Synthesizing case work.

Individual themes comprise discussions pertaining to:
Production of measurement tools – and the production of input for the tools.
Use of the tools - How are organizations translating, interpreting and using the numerical representations internally - and in relation to their environments.
Function – what is the function ascribed to the tools and the produced knowledge?
Effects of the tools - Employees, activities, and content are affected by the way in which they are rendered visible For example quality measurements require planning activities so that they can be measured and activities may be shaped by the same indicators that aim to measure them. Likewise, economic control systems determine the nature of the organization’s economy, that is, the control system contributes to constitute the object that it is to control.

During the course, the class works with a number of different tools. Performance measurements are analyzed (what kind of knowledge have they produced, which functions are they ascribing to themselves, etc.?) Different types of tools are compared, and we discuss how performance measurements can be used strategically in relation to given objectives. In support of this work lectures offer an overview over analytical approaches.

The students deal with two types of material. 1) Scientific studies of management technologies, their application and function. 2) Material conveying concrete experiences with the various tools. The idea is to couple theoretical and empirical perspectives. The theoretical literature will elucidate in part how and why knowledge about economy and quality is established, and in part the implications of the tools for organizing and management.

Examples of material:
- Product calculations
- Standards for quality systems
- Examples of evaluation reports
- Excellence-model (used for awarding the Danish Quality Prize and the Public Quality Prize)
- Manuals for evidence-based evaluation

Overlap with Organizational Design
Both OD and APM focus on the role of a variety of technologies in maintaining and transforming organizations. APM concentrates specifically on the multiple roles played by technologies in relation to accounting procedures and performance measurement. This instantiates and illustrates the general situation elucidated in OD, in which human actors and technologies together shape organizational designs and outcomes The OD and APM courses are integrated in shared workshops, which focus on the role of accounting and performance technologies in stabilizing or transforming organizational designs.


Kaplan, R.S. & Norton, D.P. (2001): Transforming the Balanced Scorecard from Performance Measurement to Strategic Management: Part 1, Accounting Horizons, 15, 87-104
Soin, K, Seal, W & Cullen, J (2002): ABC and organizational Change: An institutional perspective, Management Accounting Research, 13, pp. 249-271.
Skærbæk, P. & Tryggestad, K. (2009): The role of accounting devices in performing corporate strategy, Accounting, Organizations and Society, 17 pp.
Christensen, M., & Skærbæk, P., (2009): Consultancy Outputs and the Purification of Accounting Technologies, Accounting, Organizations and Society, 54 pp.
Callon, Michel, Cécile Méadel & Vololona Rabeharisoa (2002): ”The Economy of Qualities”. Economy and Society, vol. 31/2: 194-217.
Power, M. (1996): “Making things auditable", Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 21, No. 2/3