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Strategy and control: 25 years of empirical use of Simons’ Levers of Control framework

Patricia Martyn (Department of Accountancy and Finance, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland)
Breda Sweeney (Department of Accountancy and Finance, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland)
Emer Curtis (Department of Accountancy and Finance, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland)

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change

ISSN: 1832-5912

Article publication date: 5 September 2016

Abstract

Purpose

Tremendous change has taken place in organisational structures, networks and strategy over the past 25 years. Yet, a strategic management framework developed 25 years ago has increased in popularity among researchers in the past decade. This paper aims to review how Simons’ Levers of Control (LOC) framework has been used in empirical research studies over the past 25 years.

Design/methodology/approach

The findings are based on electronic database searches of papers adopting Simons’ framework published in accounting and management journals.

Findings

A total of 45 empirical studies adopting the LOC framework are presented chronologically by research method. The review highlights the far greater use of the framework in qualitative compared to quantitative studies. Qualitative studies have extended the application of the framework to broader organisational issues such as sustainability, environmental accounting and inter-organisational controls. The quantitative studies have mainly sought to add to our understanding of the antecedents and outcomes of the use of interactive control systems.

Originality/value

This paper furthers our understanding of Simons’ framework by synthesising and analysing the literature over 25 years. It provides insight into the varying interpretations of the concepts underlying the framework in empirical studies including differences in operationalisation of the concepts in quantitative studies. In addition, it highlights the application of the framework beyond the original domain in which it was developed. Fruitful areas for future research are pointed to in the paper.

Keywords

Citation

Martyn, P., Sweeney, B. and Curtis, E. (2016), "Strategy and control: 25 years of empirical use of Simons’ Levers of Control framework", Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 281-324. https://doi.org/10.1108/JAOC-03-2015-0027

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited