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The Genesis of Control Configurations during Organizational Founding

Organization Design

ISBN: 978-1-78756-330-8, eISBN: 978-1-78756-329-2

Publication date: 10 December 2018


In this chapter, the authors argue that organizational controls are best depicted and studied as sets of control configurations. Concepts from extant control research streams describing basic control elements as well as ideal types of control systems are used to identify and classify control configurations. The authors present compositional distinctions among four control configurations using a decade-long case study of a start-up company. By displaying how specific control elements are simultaneously distinct and intertwined in this company, the authors reveal significant theoretical insights that can assist scholars in distinguishing between different configurational patterns and in comprehending dynamics present in holistic perspectives of control. The authors conclude by discussing how conceptualizing controls as configurations most accurately reflects both organizational and managerial practice in ways that can motivate the development of new theories and approaches to studying this key aspect of organizational design. Because control configurations inherently reflect interdisciplinary concerns, and because such configurations affect the attainment of strategic goals, this work provides findings and ideas that fit the interests of a broad audience.




We would like to thank Editor John Joseph and three anonymous reviewers for their highly constructive feedback throughout the review process. We gratefully acknowledge the excellent editing assistance provided by Ricki Rusting as well as research seminar participants at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and ETH Zurich for their valuable insights on earlier versions of this manuscript. This research received partial support from the SmartState Center for Innovation and Commercialization at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.


Cardinal, L.B., Sitkin, S.B., Long, C.P. and Miller, C.C. (2018), "The Genesis of Control Configurations during Organizational Founding", Organization Design (Advances in Strategic Management, Vol. 40), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 83-114.



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