Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

El USALI y la historia de los sistemas uniformes de coste: ¿Un reto hispano?

Francisco Martin Peña, Ramon M. Soldevila de Monteys, Vanesa Berlanga Silvente


Purpose: This study presents an inquiry on the historical evolution of the uniforming
movement in cost accounting and its current position in the lodging sector. Its paramount
objective is ‘to learn from the past' and, at the same time, to pose a question of future: where are aiming the current techniques of cost management in the lodging industry to? A specific
purpose of this inquiry was fixed, on the base of a necessary retrospective look, in outlining
and analyzing the actual accounting informative needs of today’s hotel complexes, considering
the two main directions that hotel accounting has taken throughout its (long) history in search
of uniformity. A uniform purpose that, from 1926 on, the successive versions of the USAH -
Uniform System of Accounts for Hotels has being pursuing (an acronym modified in 1996 as
USALI - Uniform System of Accounts for Lodging Industries).
Design/methodology: This work composes of two parts differentiated and clearly
• In a first study it examines the movement uniform system in its most dynamic period, as
they were the years between the two WW (1920 - 1940), its aims and most outstanding
contributions, its economic and politician circumstances, social influences, etc.
• In a second study the interest is focused in the current period and specifically in the
Spanish lodging industry, where, by means of the method of the survey and personal
interviewing, it aims to evaluate and interpret the degree of need perceived by the
managerial agents of the sector about an accounting uniform movement in Spain.
Findings: The inquiry offers two types of contributions and results: on the one hand, a
reconfiguration of the role exerted by the ‘uniforming’ movement in the history of
management accounting; on the other hand, it makes evident, by means of a field inquiry,
which are the main informative needs of the lodging sector in Spain, beyond a mere sectorial
adaptation of the current general plan of accounting.
Originality/value: The authors have focused their inquiry on the big evolutionary lines that
have given fruit in the different versions of the USALI, considering its utility as the starting
point for a hypothetical system of accounting management adjusted to the needs and
idiosyncrasy of the Hispanic sector. One of the main conclusions that can be extracted is that,
either by looking at the review of the past or by summarizing the analysis of the present needs,
the evidence shows that the European hotel industry faces a pending task that the North
American tradition has been successful to channel in a way comparatively more advanced: the
fact of having a complete and uniform instrument of accounting information.

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