Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Battles in the costing war: UK debates, 1950-75

Jones, T. Colwyn; Dugdale, David


T. Colwyn Jones

David Dugdale


In the UK, 1950-75 was a lively period in the long-running debates between proponents of absorption and marginal costing. In the nexus of competing interests, management accountants advocated and defended rival costing systems with much vigour and passion. Expressed in the language of the times, these debates were 'battles' in the costing 'war'. We focus on these battles, analysing the various forces that operated upon the combatants, and locate them in the wider costing war. We conclude that no final resolution of the conflict was achieved in the twentieth century, nor is one likely in the foreseeable future.


Jones, T. C., & Dugdale, D. (2003). Battles in the costing war: UK debates, 1950-75. Accounting Business and Financial History, 13(3), 305-338.

Journal Article Type Review
Publication Date Nov 1, 2003
Journal Accounting, Business and Financial History
Print ISSN 0958-5206
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 3
Pages 305-338
Keywords absorption costing, marginal costing, direct costing, interests, emotion, conflict
Public URL
Publisher URL

Downloadable Citations