The impact of society on management control systems

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Scandinavian Journal of Management, 2017, 33 (4), pp. 253 - 266
Issue Date:
2017-12-01
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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd The aim of this study is to investigate whether certain configurations of management controls dominate in certain societies (socio-cultural contexts) and whether the effectiveness of a given archetype of management control systems (MCSs) varies depending on the socio-cultural setting—the society—in which it operates. The study focuses on three socio-cultural groups and the corresponding institutional contexts (an Anglo-Saxon group, a Central European group, and a Northern European group) and three MCS archetypes (delegated bureaucratic control, delegated output control, and programmable output control). We use unique data from a cross-national, interview-based survey encompassing 610 strategic business units from nine countries (seven European countries plus Canada and Australia). The idea that firms tend to adapt MCSs to the socio-cultural context does not gain empirical support in this study. No significant differences in the distribution of MCSs between the three socio-cultural groups are noted. However, we do find that programmable output control has a more positive impact on effectiveness in Anglo-Saxon cultures, while delegated output control has a more positive impact on effectiveness in Northern Europe. Taken together these findings indicate that distinct differences between societies make a particular MCS design more appropriate in a given society, but where such differences are not dramatic (as in the present case), multiple MCS designs can be found in the same society.
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