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Relational systems between actors in the face of management control’s contradictory injunctions

Fabienne Oriot (Professor of Management Accounting and Management Control, Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Toulouse (Toulouse Business School), France)

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

ISSN: 1176-6093

Article publication date: 1 January 2005



Many French organisations have recently chosen to decentralise their management control systems, extending them into the middle‐management level. This “irrigation” of management structure by management control systems called for a study of the articulation between central management control practices (at the head‐office level) and local management control practices (at the unit level). This exploratory study investigates the meaning that the actors in the organisational units‐local controllers and operational managers‐give to their practices aimed at implementing the central management control system. Starting from the standpoint of the subjectivist contingency theory, this research is founded on an interpretive epistemology and is based on a comparative analysis of eight case studies conducted at the regional level of a large French bank’s distribution network. The “Findings” section shows that the central management control system, developed at the bank’s head office, conveys a good many “contradictory injunctions”. A typology of the differentiated regional implementation practices is proposed. Next, the interactions between local actors exert a complex influence on these practices. Finally, a qualitative typology of the relational systems in play between management controllers and operational managers is proposed.



Oriot, F. (2005), "Relational systems between actors in the face of management control’s contradictory injunctions", Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 108-128.



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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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