Management Accounting in Public Service Decision Making  book cover
1st Edition

Management Accounting in Public Service Decision Making

ISBN 9781138366176
Published December 29, 2020 by Routledge
282 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Radical changes to public service delivery have swept across many regions of the world. Management accounting methods are vital to support operational and strategic decision making in public services internationally. This book provides a comprehensive and “leading-edge” guide to the topic.

Written by an expert scholar with practical experience of public service delivery, the book takes account of key trends such as increased demand for public services, financial austerity, technological change and enhanced performance management.

A globally relevant book, informed by cutting edge academic research and benefitting from integrated case studies, this is essential reading for both students and practitioners involved with the financial aspects of public services management.

Table of Contents

About the author



List of figures

List of tables

List of case studies

List of abbreviations

PART A: Context of management accounting in public services

  1. Public service organisations and the public sector

    • Introduction
    • What are public services?
    • What are the distinctive features of public services?
    • Challenges facing public services;
    • Aims and structure of the book

  1. Operations management of public services

    • Introduction
    • Aspects of public service operations
    • Operations management activities in public services
    • Relevance of management accounting

  1. The importance of strategy in public services

    • Introduction
    • The nature of strategic management
    • Strategic change in public services
    • The strategic management process in public services
    • Management accounting and strategic decision making

  1. Public service reforms

    • Introduction
    • Why does public service reform take place?
    • What are the objectives of public service reform?
    • What constitutes public service reform?
    • Success and failure in public service reform
    • What role should management accounting play in public service reform?

  1. Leadership, management and decision making in public services

    • Leadership and management in public services
    • Decision making in public services
    • The role of management accounting

  1. The relevance of management accounting in public services

    • Introduction
    • The nature and purpose of management accounting
    • The modern roles of management accounting in relation to public services
    • Behavioural aspects of management accounting
    • Financial analysis and economic analysis in public services – the distinction
    • The management accounting in modern public services
    • The factors that drive the configuration of management accounting in public service organisations?

PART B: Management accounting practice in public services

  1. Costing and cost information for decision making in public services

  • Introduction
  • How cost information can be used to manage public services
  • Approaches to the classification of costs
  • Costing systems and cost models in public services
  • Identifying and estimating costs in public services
  • Difficulties and complexities of costing in modern public services
  • Developing costing systems in public services

  1. Management accounting and operational/tactical decision making in public services

    • Introduction
    • Operational and strategic decision making: The distinction
    • Operational decision making in public services
    • Management accounting methods

  1. Management accounting and public service strategy

    • Introduction
    • Cost and income benchmarking
    • Strategic capital investment appraisal
    • Strategic cost improvement
    • Programme/client group analysis and budgeting
    • Strategic options analysis
    • Pricing strategies
    • Strategic financial forecasting
    • Decision support models
    • Strategic financial leadership

  1. Management accounting and management control in public services

    • Introduction
    • Key management tasks
    • The nature and purpose of management control
    • Operational/tactical management control
    • Cash and working capital control and management
    • Budgeting systems and budgetary control in public service management
    • Strategic management control

  1. Management accounting and performance management/improvement in public services

  • Introduction
  • The nature of performance in public services
  • Systems of performance management
  • Using performance information
  • Improving performance
  • The management accounting contribution

  1. Management accounting and risk management in public services

  • Introduction
  • The distinction between risk and uncertainty
  • Risk and risk management in public service organisations
  • Risk management frameworks in public services
  • The importance of organisational resilience
  • Management accounting in an environment of risk and uncertainty

  1. Contemporary aspects of management accounting in public services

    • Modern costing developments
    • Inter-organisational cost management (IOCM)
    • Environmental management accounting (EMA)

    • Management accounting and modern operational processes
    • Technology and management accounting




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Malcolm J. Prowle is currently a professor at the Gloucestershire Business School who has extensive experience of public services finance, in the UK and overseas.


"This book comes when public services face three major challenges: the austerity legacy; the pandemic and climate change. These require new strategic thinking and make unprecedented demands on decision makers. Without sound information, good management accounting, decisions are made in ignorance. With its emphasis on strategic issues, it should be essential reading for public sector managers and accountants alike." — Roger Latham, CPFA, Former Chief Executive and County Treasurer, Nottinghamshire County Council, Past president of CIPFA

"This book offers an interesting and complete analysis of the crucial role Management Accounting should play in public services. It is written in a format for international relevance, both for students and public managers. Its contribution is very necessary in the current economic context of countries like Spain that are facing the challenge of optimizing their public spending." — Dr Carolina Pontones Rosa, Associate Professor, Public Sector Accounting, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain

"Professor Prowle utilises his wealth of practitioner and scholarly experience, advanced methods and applied case studies to explore and bring alive the impact of high quality management accounting on decision-making across the public sector. Traditionalist to contemporary, operations to strategic, performance to risk; this book compares and contrasts through expert-informed, well-researched and lived insight." — Dr Peter Cross, CPFA, Chief Financial Officer, De Montfort University, Leicester, Former NHS Finance Director

"An excellent book that covers wide areas of management accounting in public sector organisations. It is one of a few books that address the context of the public sector in which management accounting operates at the international level. With its practical applications, the book will be useful for both managers and students in my country." — Dr Ali Alyamoor, Senior Lecturer in Management Accounting, University of Mosul, Iraq

"Malcolm Prowle puts management accounting into the context of public services, and from there goes on to elucidate how best to apply state-of-the-art approaches at a practical level. This involves considering the various strategic and operational decisions that face public services and examining the potential relevance and applicability of management accounting methods in each case." — Rob Whiteman, CPFA, Chief Executive, CIPFA

"An easily accessible and informative book for anyone keen to develop knowledge and understanding of the role of management accounting in public sector decision making. A vitally useful source for all public service managers grappling with a plethora of financial and practical challenges, resulting from increased demand and supply-chain pressures, made more complex in our post-Covid 19 world." — Lynne Barrow, CPFA, Assistant Dean (International), Hull University Business School

"The title of Professor Prowle’s book does scant justice to its relevance. Consistent with the premise that management accounting is a vital tool for decision making across a broad range of public sector organisations and functions, the text itself is much more than an arid accounting textbook. Using straightforward language, and drawing on numerous examples from the author’s extensive practical experience, it is as much about management as it is about accounting. While undoubtedly an invaluable resource for members of the management accounting profession, this book is also essential reading for anyone who is, or aspires to become, a financially literate public sector manager.

Professor Prowle’s book is also highly relevant for those who are tasked with leading public services in the developing world. Without undue reliance on specialist language, it provides a clear explanation of key concepts in public sector management, describes the vital role that information can play in guiding both operational and strategic decision making, and explores the contributions that management accounting can make in support of efforts to improve or reform public services. As such, the book occupies an important ‘sweet spot’ between generic management textbooks and more technical material." — Philip Davies, Former Permanent Secretary, Fiji Government Ministry of Health & Medical Services, Former Deputy Secretary, Australian Government Department of Health & Ageing, Former Vice-Chair, WHO Executive Board