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THE ENGLISH MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTING AND THE GERMAN CONTROLLING: ARE THEY SYNONYMS OR DIFFERENT CONCEPTS?

Péter Bajnai
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Péter Bajnai: Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary

CrossCultural Management Journal, 2021, issue 1, 7-14

Abstract: As a result of the development of the field of accounting, in the second half of the 20th century an analytical, planning, control and management decision support function was developed, which goes beyond traditional financial accounting and is based on accounting and financial information. The term Management Accounting has spread in Anglophone theory and practice to describe the activity, while the phrase Controlling has spread in German-speaking countries. International literature often refers to the two as synonyms, and an overview of their basic definitions also reveals their similarity. However, their differences have been revealed in several studies. Management Accounting and Controlling can be interpreted as separate concepts, the development of which is based on different economic and cultural peculiarities, and consequently different institutional and educational systems. Management Accounting is a more accounting-focused and practice-oriented profession with its own strong institutions, while Controlling is more of a separate discipline with a serious university background, a broader perspective and a strong strategic focus. Management Accounting is spread in areas related to British and American culture and economy, while Controlling is widespread in European countries with strong German influence. Examining the literature sources, it can be concluded that Management Control Systems can be used as a synonym for Controlling which covers a wider area than Management Accounting. The development of concepts, the strengthening of the strategic approach and new demands on professionals are moving both concepts towards Business Partnering, a term used by both “cultural circles”.

Keywords: Management accounting; Controlling; Controller; Strategic planning; Managerial decision support; Business Partner (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: M40 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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