Achieving and maintaining competitive advantage requires more than strategic insights. Successful managers of today need an in‐depth understanding of financial and non‐financial performance indicators, solid knowledge of how to drive strategy down to operational levels, and skills to deploy and manage multiple control systems to effectively steer their organizations. It is these topics that will be discussed in the MAC core course! The course focuses on answering the following question: How can I design an organization that executes strategy better than competitors?

The course stresses the differences and connections between financial accounting and corporate governance, on the one hand, and management accounting and control, on the other hand. Then, taking strategy as given, you will learn about several concepts as well as tools and techniques of management accounting and control that are commonly used in organizations today for making them succeed in their markets. 

In a nutshell, management accounting is about helping managers enhance decision‐making (e.g. providing information on costs for pricing decisions, product‐mix decisions) while management control is about decision‐influencing through, for example, strategy implementation (e.g. with budgets or Balanced Scorecards) or performance measurement and management of managers or business units (e.g. through key performance indicators).

However, MAC tools and techniques have to be understood not only in terms of their technical functioning, but also with respect to their relationship to the organizational context (e.g. the organizational design or an organization’s environment) in which they are embedded. Accounting systems may not only be used to enable economically sensible decisions, but may also serve as “rationalization” devices for decisions already made, or as ammunition in political power struggles between organizational actors. Part of the objective of the course is to sensitize students to the different uses which management accounting and control information may be assigned to.

To be sustainable, the modern organization has to maintain positive relationships with all its key stakeholders. In addition, it has to prepare itself for and react to multiple fast evolving environmental and social challenges that can put at risk its long term sustainability. In this course, we will also discuss how social and environmental strategies, performance indicators, and targets can be integrated in the management accounting and control platforms of organizations. 

Learning outcomes

The objective of the course is to introduce students to some of the key concepts, tools and techniques of management accounting and control. When you successfully complete this course, you should be able to:

  • Explore the critical link among strategy, performance measurement, and organizational design.
  • Understand and apply key instruments of management accounting and control, such as job costing, Activity‐Based Costing, customer profitability analysis, budgeting, or the Balanced Scorecard for managerial decision‐making and decision‐influencing.
  • Analyze and critically discuss how the performance of a corporation or business unit may be measured and managed
  • Design and evaluate an accounting and control system for a specific corporation or business unit
  • Critically evaluate the implications of environmental and social challenges facing the companies on their management accounting and control systems. 
  • Design an organization capable of bringing out the best in people and winning in any competitive market. 

Implementing these concepts will be essential to making an impact on organizations throughout your careers.