Management control systems and generational differences: An exploratory case study of a professional services firm

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
2008 AFAANZ/IAAER Conference website papers, 2008, pp. 1 - 36
Issue Date:
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This research investigates how generational culture is reflected in the design and use of Management Control Systems (MCS) within a Professional Services Firm. Literature suggests that each generation has its own characteristics or culture. This culture gives rise to preferences within each generation that potentially impact how they interface in organizations and impact the design, use and effectiveness of MCS. This issue is come to the fore in the current tight labour market and especially in accounting firms. The paper adopts an exploratory case study approach of a Big 4 Accounting Firm. The research demonstrates that generational culture has been an influential factor in the case firms MCS design. In doing so it provides insights as to how organisations can design their MCS in order to satisfy the preferences of different generations. Furthermore, the research shows that the firm aligned the MCS design to the preferences of Generation Y and explains why this was done. This improved retention rates in a tight labour market. However, it also raises concerns that this design may be at the detriment to the firm through changes in firm culture, creation of conflict between generations, and a problems with the performance of Generation Y.
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