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Staff responses to management control systems changes in an Australian university

Mamun Billah (Department of Accounting, Western Sydney University – Bankstown Campus, Milpera, Australia)
Zahir Uddin Ahmed (Department of Accounting, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)
Mohobbot Ali (School of Business, Melbourne Institute of Technology, Sydney Campus, Sydney, Australia)

Accounting Research Journal

ISSN: 1030-9616

Article publication date: 13 February 2024

Issue publication date: 1 May 2024




This study aims to examine staff responses to management control systems (MCS) changes in an Australian university. Through the analysis of the category of staff responses, it aims to understand the perception gaps among the staff at different levels of the university.


Using a case study approach on an Australian university, data was collected from interviews with staff across three hierarchical levels to explore their behavioural responses.


This study finds that staff at all levels largely complied with MCS changes due to institutional enforcement. Top management emphasised aligning with government policies and funding, often using manipulation and compartmentalisation tactics in implementing the new MCS. Mid-level managers generally favour research strategies but feel excluded from decision-making and have limited influence over funding. They adopted a balancing tactic within a compromise strategy. Meanwhile, operating-level academics had mixed experiences, feeling largely powerless in influencing MCS while also showing instances of self-motivated compliance. Overall, the study reveals varying responses across different hierarchical levels, highlighting the complexities of MCS changes in staff behaviour and attitudes.

Research limitations/implications

The insights from this study can guide university administrators and policymakers in understanding the intricate variations in staff reactions to institutional changes. By recognising the factors that drive compliance and defiance, institutions can better navigate and implement changes in MCS.


This research offers a unique perspective on the behavioural side of MCS changes in higher education. By focusing on varied hierarchical levels within a university, the study provides a granular understanding of individual responses, enriching the existing literature on MCS transitions in academia.



Erratum: It has come to the attention of the publisher that the article Billah, M., Ahmed, Z.U. and Ali, M. (2024), hx201C;Staff responses to management control systems changes in an Australian university”, Accounting Research Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print., misspelt the name of an author. This error was introduced during the production process. Mohoboot Ali has been changed to Mohobbot Ali. The publisher sincerely apologises for this error and for any confusion caused.


Billah, M., Ahmed, Z.U. and Ali, M. (2024), "Staff responses to management control systems changes in an Australian university", Accounting Research Journal, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 117-133.



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