The role of perceived attributes for the diffusion of innovations in cost accounting: The case of Activity-Based Costing


Comptabilité Contrôle Audit

April 2015, vol. 1, n°21, pp.105-137

Departments: Accounting & Management Control, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: Innovations administratives, Théorie de la diffusion, Attributs perçus de l'innovation, Comptabilité par activités, Comptabilité analytique, Administrative innovations, Diffusion theory, Perceived attributes of innovation, Activity-Based Costing, Cost accounting

Activity-Based Costing (ABC) has often been considered to be one of the most important innovations in management accounting. Although the interest in this instrument is very high, its diffusion in practice remains relatively low. Given that several variables determining the diffusion of innovations in management accounting, have still not been researched, this paradox remains to be explained.We aim to shed light on this question and present a study about the determinants of the diffusion of ABC. Based on a survey among manufacturing firms in Germany, we test hypotheses derived from Rogers’ (2003) theory of diffusion focusing on the perceived attributes of an innovation.Our results show that Rogers’ theory has some explanatory power because in line with extant research, we find that the relative advantage and trialability of ABC are important determinants for its diffusion. We attribute the finding that ease of use, compatibility, and observability have only positive but no significant effects to the fact that ABC is an administrative innovation that diffuses among organizations, which is different from the origins of the applied theoretical framework which lie in technical innovations that diffuse among individual