This study investigates management's use of decision aids within the context of an accounting information system of a late 19th century American printing firm. Our findings suggest that the use of decision aids by management transformed traditional accounting techniques and the cost accounting system into an intricate accounting information system by 1880. These decision aids allowed managers to manipulate accounting information to support decisions involving pricing, cost allocation and estimation, profitability assessment, management of receivables, and inventory control. The findings shed new light on the early work of Alexander Hamilton Church on the issue of idle time accounting and raises questions about the uniform costing movement in the American printing industry.

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