The management accountant's role in providing input data for operations research studies
Numerous authorities have suggested that management accountants should provide input data for operations research studies. In order to provide operations research groups with reliable input data, the management accountant must understand the data needs of these groups. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which management accountants are involved in the preparation of input data for operations research models and to determine the underlying reasons for their involvement or lack of involvement in supplying these data. Data were obtained by means of a mail questionnaire from fifty-seven members of the Operations Research Society of America who are practitioners in the State of Illinois. The major conclusion which was drawn from the study is: The department which requests a solution to an operations research problem (user department) is an important source of input data for operations research studies. In these cases, management accountants ordinarily are not directly involved in providing data for operations research studies. Among the several casual factors which are responsible for management accountants' lack of involvement in providing input data, the most important ones are: the data are either not available or not available in the form the operations research personnel need them from the accounting system, the data estimated by the operations research staff are more relevant and reliable than accounting data, and management accountants do not adequately understand the data requirements of operations research models. Based on the findings of this study, the researcher recommended that management accountants show more enthusiasm and interest in operations research work by taking the initiative in providing data for operations research studies. Continuing education courses in operations research are suggested as a means of "tooling up" for this activity. Specifically, they are urged to take courses in logic and philosophy to help them think intuitively and a theoretical course in the theory of information as well as a course in applied total information systems to provide them with sufficient competency to identify the components necessary for serving the informational needs of operations research groups.