Accounting (ACCT) 454

Management Control Systems and Decision Analysis (Revision 8)

ACCT 454

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online with eTextbook

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies
(Business and Administrative Studies)

Prerequisites: ACCT 351, ACCT 352, ACCT 355 and either MATH 215 or MGSC 301. MGSC 312 is recommended but not required.

Faculty: Faculty of Business

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ACCT454: Management control Systems and Decision Analysis teaches students about management control systems, which are used to align employee decisions and behaviours with organizational objectives and strategies. Establishing effective management controls is complex because it involves assessing the needs of an organization and the effects and costs of different combinations of possible approaches. The other key aspect of the course is decision analysis, which is necessary for managers to make strategic financial and performance management decisions for today’s dynamic organizations.


The course comprises 16 lessons, divided among six units.

Unit 1: The Control Function of Management

  • Lesson 1: Management and Control

Unit 2: Management Control Alternatives and Their Effects

  • Lesson 2: Results Controls
  • Lesson 3: Action, Personnel, and Cultural Controls
  • Lesson 4: Control System Tightness
  • Lesson 5: Control System Costs
  • Lesson 6: Designing and Evaluating Management Control Systems

Unit 3: Financial Results Controls Systems

  • Lesson 7: Financial Responsibility Centres
  • Lesson 8: Planning and Budgeting
  • Lesson 9: Incentive Systems

Unit 4: Performance Measurement Issues and Their Effects

  • Lesson 10: Financial Performance Measures and Their Effects
  • Lesson 11: Remedies to the Myopia Problem
  • Lesson 12: Using Financial Results Controls in the Presence of Uncontrollable Factors

Unit 5: Corporate Governance, Important Control-Related Roles, and Ethics

  • Lesson 13: Corporate Governance and Boards of Directors
  • Lesson 14: Controllers and Auditors
  • Lesson 15: Management Control-Related Ethical Issues

Unit 6: Management Control When Financial Results Are Not the Primary Consideration

  • Lesson 16: Management Control in Not-for-profit Organizations


To receive credit for ACCT 454, you must obtain a grade of D (50 percent) or better on the Final Examination and an overall course grade of at least a D (50 percent).

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1: Case Study 15%
Assignment 2: Case Study 15%
Assignment 3: Case Study 15%
Lesson quizzes (16 @ 1.25% each) 20%
Final Exam 35%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

Note: Students planning to transfer this course to a Professional Accounting designation are advised that they will be required to achieve a grade higher than the minimum passing grade. See CPA Requirements for details.


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Merchant, K. A., & Van der Stede, W. A. (2017). Management control systems: Performance measurement, evaluation and incentives (4th ed.). Pearson Education. ISBN-10: 1292110554; ISBN-13: 9781292110554.

You may be able to acquire a print copy of the textbook on your own, if you wish. Ensure that the edition number matches that given above.

Other Resources

All other learning resources will be available online.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 8, April 7, 2021.

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