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The impact of society on management control systems

Journal article
Authors Jan Greve
Christian Ax
David S. Bedford
Piotr Bednarek
Rolf Brühl
Johan Dergård
Angelo Ditillo
Andrea Dossi
Maurice Gosselin
Sophie Hoozée
Poul Israelsen
Otto Janschek
Daniel Johanson
Tobias Johansson
Dag Øivind Madsen
Teemu Malmi
Carsten Rohde
Mikko Sandelin
Torkel Strömsten
Thomas Toldbod
Jeanette Willert
Published in Scandinavian Journal of Management
Volume 33
Issue 4
Pages 253-266
ISSN 0956-5221
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Business Administration, Accounting
Pages 253-266
Language en
Keywords Bureaucratic control, Business systems, Contingency framework, Output control, Societal institutions
Subject categories Economics and Business


© 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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