Module 3 – Background


Modular Learning Objectives

Keep the following objectives in mind as you work through the material in this module:

· Define the role of responsibility accounting.

· Differentiate between controllable and uncontrollable costs.

· Analyze structure of a decentralized organization.

· Define profit centers, cost centers, and investment centers.

· Compute transfer prices.

· Identify three main transfer pricing approaches.

Required Reading

This module covers the role of responsibility accounting and responsibility centers. Explore these topics further while keeping the above six objectives in mind. Click on the three arrows to explore each topic in more detail:

Responsibility Accounting

Responsibility Centers

Transfer Pricing

Check Your Understanding

Check your understanding to make sure that you have a good grasp of the background material. If you are not comfortable with the concepts, review some of the material again or go to the optional resource for more examples. Click on the quiz icon for an ungraded, 20-question true-or-false self-study quiz to check your progress. If you are not satisfied with the score, review some of the material again. For more in-depth information, review materials listed under optional reading at the bottom of this page.

Final Thoughts

A responsibility center is a part or subunit of a company for which a manager has authority and responsibility. The company’s detailed organization chart is a logical source for determining responsibility centers. The most common responsibility centers are the departments within a company. When the manager of a responsibility center can control only costs, the responsibility center is referred to as a cost center. If a manager can control both costs and revenues, the responsibility center is known as a profit center. If a manager has authority and responsibility for costs, revenues, and investments the responsibility center is referred to as an investment center.

The existence of responsibility centers necessitates the setting of an internal price for the transfer of parts, goods, and services among units and responsibility centers. Transfer prices are contentious because management intervenes by creating policies which have an effect on the income of a responsibility center or unit.

Transfers among international jurisdictions involve additional considerations. Not only accounting rules, but income taxation and duties affect pricing strategies. Most countries have regulations to help prevent the use of this pricing method as a means of evading taxes or similar unethical and illegal activities.

Optional Reading

For further detail refer to Dr. Walther’s accounting text and videos. Walther, L. (2017). Chapter 23:  Reporting to Support Managerial Decisions .

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