This book provides an introductory level of instruction to students of healthcare management who are studying management accounting for the first time. It offers a user-oriented approach to management accounting concepts and techniques that will help to prepare them for work in an environment where an understanding of management accounting is important to success.
Management accounting is concerned primarily with the information needs of an organization's managers. In general these needs arise in three areas: full cost accounting, differential cost accounting, and responsibility accounting. The distinctions among these different types of accounting are discussed below.
TO THE STUDENT
The working assumption of this book is that you have no prior knowledge of management accounting. Upon completing the book successfully, you will be knowledgeable about both the uses and the limitations of management accounting information. To accomplish this, I place minimal emphasis on the technical aspects of preparing accounting information, covering only those technical matters that are essential to understanding the information. Most of the focus is on the meaning and utility of accounting information for managers and other users.
In general the learning process consists of developing new skills, which can be acquired only by practice. Learning management accounting is a bit like learning about a new city. If someone takes you on several drives around the city, you will probably learn very little about how to get from one place to another. If you drive by yourself, however, you will learn a great deal about the city—acquiring far more knowledge on a single trip than you would in dozens of trips as a passenger.
In this book you are the driver rather than the passenger. The idea is to practice (and learn) accounting while you read each chapter. You will have opportunities to prepare answers to problems that appear throughout each chapter, and to analyze a practice case study (sometimes two) at the end of the chapter. There are several features that you should keep in mind as you engage in this effort.
Mastering management accounting requires learning some analytical techniques that build on each other. Although most students find management accounting intuitively understandable, the material cannot be learned by thinking “deep thoughts.” This book guides you as you work with the concepts and techniques so you can see how they are developed and applied. The discussion in each chapter assumes that you understand the material covered in the prior chapters, so it is important to work through the chapters in order.
Throughout each chapter, important terms are indicated in italics. A definition of each of those terms is contained in a glossary at the end of the book.