The Impact of Society on Management Control Systems
Scandinavian Journal of Management, Vol. 33, Issue 4, pp. 253-266, 2017
Posted: 26 Sep 2017 Last revised: 26 Nov 2017
Date Written: September 14, 2017
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.
Keywords: societal institutions, business systems, contingency framework, bureaucratic control, output control
JEL Classification: M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation