There have been historical studies that have played an obvious role in management accounting in recent years. They have played a role in economics and sociology, which provide a basis for management accounting research. As accountants use economic and sociological theories to explain management accounting practice, they may often be using theories suggested and supported by historical data.
Accounting researchers are frequently unfamiliar with historical research methods. If historical studies significantly influence management accounting research, then this unfamiliarity means that arguments and approaches may be adopted from historical studies. They may do this without asking the questions that historians would ask of the material.
The book, "Relevance Lost: The Rise and Fall of Management Accounting" introduces the idea that currently accepted management and cost accounting methods as used today in Corporate America are "...inadequate for today's environment. In this time of rapid technological change, vigorous global and domestic competition, and enormously expanding information processing capabilities, management accounting systems are not providing useful, timely information for the process control, product costing, and performance evaluation activities of managers." (Johnson and Kaplan, 1987)
Modern cost management systems have lost their relevance to management in that they do not provide accurate and timely data to the various levels of management to assess return on investment, profitability, and overall performance. Most management accounting systems described herein by Johnson and Kaplan provide only information necessary for tightly controlled external reporting requirements and other financial accounting needs, i.e., annual reports, government reporting, etc., and do not provide necessary visibility to front-line and cost account managers.
As the need developed to raise large amounts of capital from increa