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The balanced scorecard and the construction of a management control discourse

Will Seal (School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Linna Ye (School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change

ISSN: 1832-5912

Article publication date: 28 October 2014

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to synthesise a pragmatic constructivist view of management control and a critical discourse perspective on organizational action. These theories are deployed to build a conceptual framework that can be used to interpret the construction of a management control discourse in specific empirical situations. The framework is deployed to show how, in a particular instance, the balanced scorecard (BSC) can be seen as impacting on organizational action and success/failure.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper develops a theoretical framework for management control which is used to interpret a case study of a BSC implementation in a major bank.

Findings

The paper reports on a case study of a major bank where the BSC changed actors’ perceptions and actions. Although the bank avoided some of the worst excesses of pre-Credit Crunch delinquency, other problems such as misselling suggest that the BSC’s impact on organizational success/failure was ambiguous. The BSC may have improved organizational coordination but long-standing values based on a bonus culture contributed to long-term commercial problems.

Research limitations/implications

With mainstream researchers on the BSC lacking a conceptual basis that explains the communicative impact of the BSC and interpretive researchers focusing on the role of rhetoric in spreading the BSC amongst practitioners, then the conceptual framework in this paper suggests a way of synthesising mainstream and interpretive research on the BSC.

Originality/value

The originality of the paper lies in its application of pragmatic constructivism and critical discourse analysis to interpret and explain the impact of the BSC in a particular organizational setting.

Keywords

Citation

Seal, W. and Ye, L. (2014), "The balanced scorecard and the construction of a management control discourse", Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 466-485. https://doi.org/10.1108/JAOC-10-2012-0098

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited