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Using Action Research to Achieve the Implementation of Cost Accounting: The Case of the Public Sports Organizations at Local Level


The public sector is presently immersed in a modernization process that requires the development and incorporation of new techniques and tools designed to improve management and facilitate this transformation. Cost accounting is one of the most popular tools used in the local governments. However their successfully implementation is far from being achieved in some areas at local level such as public sport services, which have important necessities of improve and update their financial management. This research examines the implementation of a cost accounting system in eight public sports organizations at local level in Spain. Through action research and multiple case study, we analyzed the starting situation, the cost study course, conditions for success, barriers encountered and the real utility of cost accounting. A need for simplicity and clarity, both of the cost analysis system and the information provided, was identified as a key factor for successful implementation along with a need to define the sports facilities and sport activities as core factors. The main problem identified during the implementation process was the poor quality of starting information related to the consumption and allocation of resources. Finally, our findings highlight the usefulness of a comprehensive cost accounting study for tasks as important as fixing prices or planning the sports activities to be offered.

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The authors acknowledge the financial contribution from the Spanish National Sports Council (Consejo Superior de Deportes) (039/UPB10/12).

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Correspondence to Jorge García-Unanue.

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García-Unanue, J., Felipe, J.L. & Gallardo, L. Using Action Research to Achieve the Implementation of Cost Accounting: The Case of the Public Sports Organizations at Local Level. Syst Pract Action Res 28, 111–123 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11213-014-9322-3

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  • Sport management
  • Management accounting
  • Sport facilities
  • Public management
  • Action research