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Measuring reflectiveness as innovation potential – Do we ever stop to think around here?

Performance Measurement and Management Control: Behavioral Implications and Human Actions

ISBN: 978-1-78350-377-3, eISBN: 978-1-78350-378-0

Publication date: 9 May 2014



The aim of this chapter is to highlight the role of organizational reflectiveness as a possible enabler for innovation. In order to support the process of innovation, we need to understand organizational learning on a more detailed level, including reflection as an elemental sub-process in experiential, transformational, and action learning.


We present a tool and preliminary empirical findings for measuring an organization’s level of reflectiveness. We also provide some preliminary empirical results regarding whether reflectivity results in the generation of new innovations relating to work practices and processes.


The chapter fills two research gaps, and in doing so contributes to measuring and controlling organizational learning and innovation activities. First, we complement the existing conceptualization of reflective practice by utilizing the management control system (MCS) (Malmi & Brown, 2008) in the analysis of reflectiveness on the organization level. Finally, in the conclusion, we present reflective practice as a potential concept and practical tool for enhancing the interactive use of MCS. The interactive use of MCS has been recognized for its potential in boosting learning, creativity, and innovations in certain contexts (Davila, Foster, & Oyon, 2009), but so far the definitions for interactive use remain descriptive and varied among management accounting theorists.


The approach in this study is predominantly conceptual, with empirical and exploratory findings derived from measuring the level of reflectiveness in three organizations. The study enhances the understanding of management control based on the theoretical notion of multilevel reflection on a practice-based level. Empirically, reflective practices are often studied as a learning phenomenon on the individual and collective levels. However, such an approach generally does not incorporate managerial pragmatism regarding the causes of institutionalized learning or the means of managerial control for enabling reflection and, in consequence, innovations.




The authors are grateful to the REFINNO research team, Prof. Petri Suomala, D.Ed., Kati Tikkamäki, MSc., Minna Saunila, PhD., Juhani Ukko, and Sanna Vauranoja for the insightful and constructive academic discussions and joint efforts in the case interventions. They have enabled the multidisciplinary development of the interpretation of reflective practice, combined with ideas of management control. We are also grateful for the valuable feedback from the 7th Conference on Performance Measurement and Management Control in Barcelona. Moreover, funding by the Finnish Agency for Technology has enabled the research project underlying this publication.


Hildén, S., Pekkola, S. and Rämö, J. (2014), "Measuring reflectiveness as innovation potential – Do we ever stop to think around here?", Performance Measurement and Management Control: Behavioral Implications and Human Actions (Studies in Managerial and Financial Accounting, Vol. 28), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 177-202.



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