Increasing Accounting Majors and Minors in the Introductory Management Accounting Course: A Business Planning Approach

41 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2002

See all articles by Noah Barsky

Noah Barsky

Villanova University - School of Business

Anthony H. Catanach

Villanova University - School of Business; The American College

Date Written: May 2002


Introductory management accounting courses traditionally have emphasized cost accounting topics rather than the critical role that information plays in decision-making. Many accounting educators believe that creatively redesigning the introductory management accounting course may help to reverse recent declines in accounting enrollments. Building upon a recently proposed management accounting education framework and several existing serial case pedagogies, this paper describes a fundamentally different delivery approach for the introductory management course: the Business Planning Model (BPM). The BPM reengineers the managerial principles course in two ways: (1) by replacing cost accounting course content with strategy and risk topics, and (2) by delivering and reinforcing course content using a semester-long business planning simulation.

This new approach introduces students to managerial accounting topics as they arise during the preparation of a comprehensive business plan for a start-up enterprise. Although the BPM delivers much of the technical content contained in most introductory managerial courses, the BPM's topical coverage differs from the traditional course in three ways. First, the BPM incorporates a broader business perspective and covers subjects related to business strategy, risk assessment and basic business processes not covered in most textbook-driven introductory courses. This focus is necessary given that business plans must address strategy, market, resource, and implementation issues. Second, the BPM intentionally ignores cost accounting topics more appropriate for accounting majors (e.g. cost allocation, variable and absorption costing, etc.), not the undergraduate business student in general. Finally, the BPM uses basic consumer and retail examples that leverage students? business experiences as customers and front-line, service-oriented employees. These contexts differ from traditional courses that typically rely on large manufacturing firms to illustrate course content.

The course unfolds over twelve weeks, with two weeks reserved for student presentations. The delivery of technical material via an alternating series of class mini-lectures, discussions and mini-cases allows students to gain sufficient fundamental knowledge of managerial accounting topics to complete business plan phases in a timely fashion. Additionally, specific business planning issues are emphasized in class each day to motivate topical content and link it to the simulation.

Students completing the BPM introductory managerial course report that it: (1) gives them an appreciation for the value of information; (2) provides them with a basic understanding of business processes and the related risks; and (3) is effective in developing certain key business skills, specifically risk assessment, critical thinking, and oral communication skills. Assessment results further suggest that the BPM actually motivates students to study accounting.

Keywords: introductory accounting, management accounting, curriculum development, business planning, entrepreneurship

JEL Classification: M10, M13, M40, M46

Suggested Citation

Barsky, Noah and Catanach, Anthony H., Increasing Accounting Majors and Minors in the Introductory Management Accounting Course: A Business Planning Approach (May 2002). Available at SSRN: or

Noah Barsky (Contact Author)

Villanova University - School of Business ( email )

800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085-1678
United States
610-519-6272 (Phone)
610-519-5204 (Fax)

Anthony H. Catanach

Villanova University - School of Business ( email )

Dept. of Accountancy
Villanova, PA 19085
United States
610- 519-4825 (Phone)
610-519-5204 (Fax)

The American College ( email )

Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
United States

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