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Management control facing the challenges of overall performance: A study carried out with management controllers

Denis Travaillé (Centre Magellan, Univ Lyon, Jean Moulin, iaelyon, Lyon, France)
Gérald Naro (Montpellier Research on Management, University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France)

Society and Business Review

ISSN: 1746-5680

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




This paper aims to focus on the role of management control function in the strategies of corporate social responsibility adopted by companies. Since the years 1980/1990, multidimensional models appeared that give an integrated or balanced representation of performance. In parallel, facing the challenges of sustainable development (SD) and taking them into account in the management of companies, the concept of overall performance has developed. But, at the same time, research based on neo-institutional sociology suggests on the contrary the existence of a loose coupling between a management control oriented towards the search for legitimacy and the internal practices of management control.


The study took place between 2010 and 2015. In 2010, the authors conducted a primary exploratory survey of a sample of 40 management controllers. The study was continued in 2015 by a survey of 60 management accountants. The questionnaires were administered electronically. Sorting and cross-sorting, along with tests of independence based on the χ2 test, were carried out.


The results of the surveys have allowed us to observe the absence of significant links between proactive strategies displayed by companies in SD and the missions and instruments of management control. These latter would focus solely on measurement, monitoring and reporting of an exclusively economic and financial performance.

Research limitations/implications

This is an exploratory study among French controllers. This study could be deepened by an international survey of a larger sample and by case studies with different managers involved in SD steering.

Practical implications

The study highlights the need to involve management controllers in steering SD.

Social implications

While the literature in management control highlights the role of management accountants in the strategic alignment of SD, this study has shown the weakness of this role.


The article shows the weak involvement of management controllers in the implementation of SD, while the latter would want to become more involved in the steering of SD.



Travaillé, D. and Naro, G. (2017), "Management control facing the challenges of overall performance: A study carried out with management controllers", Society and Business Review, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 175-199.



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