The epigraph quotation highlights the fact that standard costing was in vogue from the time man first began to think of his welfare. The dictionary defines the word ‘standard’ as ‘a definite level of excellence, attainment, or a definite degree of any quality, viewed as a prescribed object of endeavour or as a measure of what is adequate for some purpose’. An accounting definition1 is ‘A predetermined cost calculated in relation to a prescribed set of working conditions, correlating technical specifications and scientific measurement of materials and labour to the prices and wage rates expected to apply during the period to which the standard cost is intended to relate, with an addition of an appropriate share of budgeted overhead’ (ICMA, 1974).
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