In this first part of a two-part paper, we develop a common platform to characterize several popular approaches for computing product costs. We describe four kinds of product costing systems: traditional volume-based systems, activity-based costing systems, time-driven activity-based costing systems, and resource consumption accounting. We employ a continuing numerical example to illustrate the commonalities and differences among these systems. In Part 2 of the paper, we evaluate the systems along multiple dimensions and offer suggestions for how we might blend the best features of various approaches.

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