Organisations produce effects that go beyond the economic framing within which they operate, referred to as overflows in this paper. When an organisation comes under pressure to address these overflows they must decide how to respond. Previous research has placed social and environmental reporting as an important tool organisations mobilise in their attempts to mediate these pressures and the groups that give rise to them. However, these reports are typically only released once a year while the pressures that organisations face can arise at any time and are ongoing and constant. The purpose of this paper is to explore situated organisational practices and examine if and how management controls are mobilised in relation to the actions of pressure groups.
This paper takes a case study approach to understand how an organisation attempts to mediate the pressures from a number of overflows: carbon emissions, changing lifestyles, aspartame and obesity. To undertake this research a performative understanding of management control is utilised. This focusses the research on if and how management controls are mobilised to assist with attempts to mediate pressures.
Analysis of the data shows that many different management controls, beyond just reports, were mobilised during the attempts to mediate the pressure arising from the actions of groups affected by the overflows. The management controls were utilised to: identify pressures, demonstrate how the pressure had been addressed, alleviate the pressure or to dispute the legitimacy of the pressure.
This paper shows the potential for new connections to be made between the management control and social and environmental accounting literatures. It demonstrates that future research may gain much from examining the management controls mobilised within the situated practices that constitute an organisations response to the pressures it faces.
The authors are grateful for the constructive comments received from John Burns, John Roberts, Angelo Ditillo, Takaharu Kawai, participants at the 2014 Global Management Accounting Research Symposium in Sydney, Australia, the 2015 Japan Association of Management Accountants Annual Meeting, the 2016 American Accounting Association Management Accounting Section Research and Case Conference and seminar participants at Kyoto University, the University of Portsmouth and the University of Exeter, Business School. The authors are also especially grateful to the comments of the two anonymous reviewers whose suggestions have been constructive in the authors’ rewriting of this paper.
Jollands, S., Akroyd, C. and Sawabe, N. (2018), "Management controls and pressure groups: the mediation of overflows", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 31 No. 6, pp. 1644-1667. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-10-2016-2747Download as .RIS
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