The aim of this article is to investigate the origin and development of management accounting and to assess to what extent it has been based on functional principles. For the purpose of the analysis management accounting thought is categorised into three frameworks namely functional, interpretative and radical (Hopper and Powell 1985),
It finds that in respect of the origin of the subject two of the schools of thought namely for the purpose of increased efficiency during the Industrial revolution (Edwards, Boyns and Anderson 1995) and as a result of the intemalisation of the market (Chandler 1977) can be categorised as functional. Three other views namely the exploitation of society by capital (Neimark and Tinker 1986). the labour process approach (Hoskin and Macve 1988, Hopper, Storey and Wilmott 1987) and as an instrument for the advancement of the profession (Armstrong 1985), take a radical approach.
The majority of the management accounting developments between the origins of cost accounting and the 1970s were of a functionalist nature, whilst during the period between 1970 and 2000, several approaches that can be categorised as interpretative or radical came to the fore.