Creating Dynamic Tensions Through a Balanced Use of Management Control Systems

Posted: 4 Mar 2012

Date Written: March 4, 2012

Abstract

This paper explores how organizations balance controlling and enabling uses of management control systems (MCS), and how this balance facilitates the creation of dynamic tensions and unique organizational capabilities. By employing levers of control framework in a case study setting, the paper investigates the challenges faced by senior managers when they use MCS simultaneously to direct and empower. The findings indicate a number of factors – internal consistency, logical progression, historical tendency, dominance, and suppression – that impact the capacity of organizations to balance different uses of MCS. The interactive lever of control also plays a significant role in achieving and sustaining a balance between controlling and enabling uses of MCS, and its impact on the other levers is seen to constitute a unique organizational capability in its own right. The findings from this study offer an elaboration of how dynamic tensions are created through managers’ attempts to balance controlling and enabling uses of MCS.

Keywords: levers of control, tensions, management control

JEL Classification: J41

Suggested Citation

Mundy, Julia, Creating Dynamic Tensions Through a Balanced Use of Management Control Systems (March 4, 2012). Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 35, No. 5, pp. 499-523, July 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2015790

Julia Mundy (Contact Author)

University of Greenwich ( email )

30 Park Row
Greenwich
London, SE10 9LS
United Kingdom

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