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The impact of regulation on management control: Compliance as a strategic response to institutional logics of university accreditation

Thomas Ahrens (United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates)
Rihab Khalifa (College of Business and Economics, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates)

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

ISSN: 1176-6093

Article publication date: 15 June 2015

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to contribute to our understanding of the impact of regulation on management control practices. It explores the processes by which the institutionalised properties of certain management controls are adapted to organisational contexts and underpin organisational routines. The authors are interested in the voluntary adoption of management controls with highly developed institutional logics, how organisations respond initially to the institutional logics of new management controls and by what means those logics become a workable basis for institutionalising controls in the organisation.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper explores some of the ways in which the institutional logics of management control come to have organisational effects, studying a seemingly simple organisational response to institutional processes: compliance. The argument is illustrated with examples from university accreditation as a management control institution that combines cultural and administrative controls. The paper is based on participant observation in three universities.

Findings

The authors find that compliance requires considerable organisational meaning-making and that organisational work of compliance separates into adaptation and execution. Moreover, the process of compliance produces distinctions between experts of the accreditation logic, users of the accreditation logic, agnostics and sceptics. Rather than passive acquiescence, compliance with regulated management control is a creative process of arranging and translating general prescriptions for use in a specific context.

Originality/value

This is the first study of university accreditation as a management control institution. It adds to a still emerging literature on the effects of institutional logics, and in particular regulatory logics, on organisational management control.

Keywords

Citation

Ahrens, T. and Khalifa, R. (2015), "The impact of regulation on management control: Compliance as a strategic response to institutional logics of university accreditation", Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 106-126. https://doi.org/10.1108/QRAM-04-2015-0041

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited