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The role of technocratic and socio-ideological controls in managing tensions when integrating international subsidiaries

Martin Carlsson-Wall (Department of Accounting, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden)
Peter Hirner (Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden)
Kalle Kraus (Department of Accounting, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden and Department of Accounting, Business School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia)
Adrian von Lewinski (Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden)

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

ISSN: 1176-6093

Article publication date: 5 August 2019

Issue publication date: 5 August 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to analyse how a multinational organisation uses technocratic and socio-ideological controls to manage tensions arising when integrating its international subsidiaries.

Design/methodology/approach

Through interviews and company documentation, the authors analyse how a global German family business firm integrates its international subsidiaries into the corporate context.

Findings

The findings suggest that technocratic and socio-ideological controls in combination help the firm manage three tensions – vertical vs lateral relations, standardisation vs differentiation of practices and centralisation vs decentralisation of decision-making – arising in the course of internationalisation. These results have important analytical implications for the understanding of how a high level of compliance to technocratic control initiatives is achieved. Prior work has, in the main, focussed on the resistance to technocratic controls without paying much attention to compliance. Specifically, the authors show how managers can use socio-ideological control to achieve a high level of compliance among employees when implementing technocratic controls.

Practical implications

The results suggest that managers in multinational firms need to pay careful attention to the tensions that are created when they internationalise and to apply a combination of technocratic and socio-ideological controls to manage these tensions.

Originality/value

There is limited knowledge of how managers use socio-ideological control to enact a particular form of experience for their employees and to create a highly valued sense of purpose. The findings suggest that these controls, in combination with technocratic ones, serve important roles when organisations expand internationally.

Keywords

Citation

Carlsson-Wall, M., Hirner, P., Kraus, K. and von Lewinski, A. (2019), "The role of technocratic and socio-ideological controls in managing tensions when integrating international subsidiaries", Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 434-455. https://doi.org/10.1108/QRAM-05-2018-0032

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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