Do Customer Profitability Accounting and Analyses Provide Managers with new Decision Support? Evidence from Norwegian Fish Exporters

Øyvind Helgesen


This paper has two purposes: (1) to study the relationships between subject ive and objective (cost-based) measures of customer profitability, and (2) to study managers’ collective cognitions of their customers’ profitability. Empirical
data have been collected from four Norwegian fish exporters: (1) managers’ a priori subjective judgments of the profitability of customers, and (2) customer profitability accounts (not available earlier). This industry has a very high level of directly traceable costs (98.5 per cent) implying very low uncertainties in the measures of customer profitability. Associations between subjective and  objective measures of customer profitability measures are weak both regarding absolute and relative customer results. Managers have common perceptions with respect to customer profitability, however, not in accordance with the customer profitability accounts (CPA). Neither education nor experience can compensate for insufficient or missing customer accounts that provide reliable
profitability figures. Intuition may function best when “cornerstones” based on rational working methods are available for the decision makers. Thus, CPA provide managers with new decision support . The paper emphasizes
practical implications regarding customer profitability accounting and management decisions.


customer profitability; decision support; managerial cognition; objective performance measures; subjective (perceptual) performance measures

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ISSN 1869-6945


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