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Article
Publication date: 29 April 2021

Gianluca F Delfino and Berend van der Kolk

The authors examine the impact of the sudden shift to remote working, triggered by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis, on management control (MC) practices in…

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Abstract

Purpose

The authors examine the impact of the sudden shift to remote working, triggered by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis, on management control (MC) practices in professional service firms (PSFs). In addition, employee responses to these changes are explored.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors carried out a field study of MC changes in PSFs in Italy, the first country in Europe that was severely impacted by COVID-19. Interviews with PSF employees form the primary data source. Pattern matching was used to identify similarities and differences and investigate how employees respond to the MC changes.

Findings

As a response to the shift to remote working, managers at PSFs made various MC-related changes. For instance, they increased the number of online meetings and made use of technologies to monitor employees from a distance. Employees reacted to this by engaging in “voluntary visibilizing practices”, i.e. by trying to make sure they got noted by their superiors, for instance by doing overtime. In addition, collected evidence suggests increased stress levels among employees, changes to employee autonomy, changed perceptions of hierarchies and a weakened sense of relatedness with others in the organization.

Originality/value

This is one of the first studies to examine the impact of the sudden shift to remote working on MC. In addition, this paper contributes by exploring employee responses to the MC-related changes. The findings add to the growing literature on MC and motivation, and the notion of voluntary visibilizing practices is mobilized to warn against over-commitment and self-exploitation.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 34 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 15 June 2021

Nieves Carrera and Berend Van Der Kolk

The purpose of this paper is to examine how experience and gender relate to the auditors’ moral awareness.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how experience and gender relate to the auditors’ moral awareness.

Design/methodology/approach

Hypotheses are informed by a neurocognitive approach to ethical decision-making and tested using survey data from 191 auditors of a Big Four audit firm in The Netherlands.

Findings

The main findings indicate that more experienced auditors (i.e. those with more years of work experience, a higher rank and a higher age) show higher levels of moral awareness. This positive relationship is stronger for morally questionable situations related to accounting and auditing, compared to general business moral dilemmas. In addition, the results support the expectation that on average, female auditors have higher moral awareness than their male counterparts.

Originality/value

To the knowledge of the authors, this is the first study that considers a neurocognitive approach to inform hypotheses about the antecedents of auditors’ moral awareness. The findings suggest that the involvement of experienced auditors in ethical decision-making processes may be beneficial given their enhanced ability to identify ethically disputable situations as such. Furthermore, increasing the number of women in senior positions may positively affect ethical decision-making in audit firms. Finally, this paper presents directions for future research.

Details

Managerial Auditing Journal, vol. 36 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-6902

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 17 August 2015

Berend van der Kolk, Henk J. ter Bogt and Paula M.G. van Veen-Dirks

The purpose of this paper is to examine how management control (MC) within governmental departments is used in times of austerity, and how insights from agency and…

1966

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how management control (MC) within governmental departments is used in times of austerity, and how insights from agency and stewardship theory can enhance the understanding of this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors distinguish two types of MC (constraining and facilitating) based on their different assumptions regarding human behavior (agent-like and steward-like). The authors empirically analyze changes in the use of these types of MC in four cases located in two municipalities. The collected data consists of 51 semi-structured interviews, desk research and multiple field observations.

Findings

The authors find that MC at the departmental level becomes more constraining in times of austerity. The authors suggest that an overemphasis on constraining MC has negative consequences. It can, for instance, evoke agent-like, opportunistic behavior while it disregards potential steward-like behavior. These negative consequences are less prevalent when there is a simultaneous increase in emphasis on the use of facilitating MC elements.

Originality/value

The authors acknowledge “human ambivalence,” i.e. an employee’s recurring choice between agent-like and steward-like behavior, and illustrate the dangers of overly relying on constraining types of MC. The authors also contemplate alternative strategic managerial responses to austerity in a public sector context.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 28 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 8 September 2022

Tiago Cardão-Pito

Abstract

Details

European Journal of Management Studies, vol. 27 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2183-4172

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 9 December 2021

Giulia Leoni, Alessandro Lai, Riccardo Stacchezzini, Ileana Steccolini, Stephen Brammer, Martina Linnenluecke and Istemi Demirag

This paper introduces the second part of a AAAJ special issue on accounting, accountability and management during the COVID-19 emergency. The authors analyse the themes…

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper introduces the second part of a AAAJ special issue on accounting, accountability and management during the COVID-19 emergency. The authors analyse the themes that emerge from the second part of the special issue, which allows us to identify the diverse accounting and accountability practices across different geographical and organisational contexts. The authors also provide an overall picture of the contributions of the special issue, with insights into avenues of future research.

Design/methodology/approach

Building on the first part of the AAAJ special issue, the paper draws together and identifies additional emerging themes related to research into the COVID-19 pandemic and how it impacts accounting, accountability and management practices. The authors reflect on the contributions of the special issue to the interdisciplinary accounting research project.

Findings

The authors identify two macro-themes and outline their contributions to the accounting literature. The first deals with the changes and dangers of accounting and accountability practices during the pandemic. The second considers accountability practices in a broader sense, including reporting, disclosure and rhetorical practices in the management of COVID-19.

Practical implications

The paper shows the pervasive role of accounting and accountability in the unprecedented and indiscriminate health crisis of COVID-19. It highlights the important role of special issues in producing timely research that responds to unfolding events.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to current debates on the roles of accounting and accountability during COVID-19 by drawing together the themes of the special issue and identifying future interdisciplinary accounting research on the pandemic's aftermath.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 35 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 28 September 2020

Paula van Veen-Dirks and Anneke Giliam

Purpose – This study focuses on the relationship between local governments and public sector joint ventures (JVs). Public sector JVs are separate administrative entities…

Abstract

Purpose – This study focuses on the relationship between local governments and public sector joint ventures (JVs). Public sector JVs are separate administrative entities that undertake public service activities on behalf of local governments. The aim of this study is to examine the vertical management control packages that are used by local governments to control the relationship with their public sector JVs.

Design/methodology/approach – Two case studies have been conducted in two public sector JVs, owned jointly by more than 20 local governments. The analysis of the two cases is informed by an integrated conceptual framework describing how transactional and relational factors influence control, trust, and risk in the context of public sector JVs.

Findings – The case studies provide a nuanced understanding of the interplay between the vertical management control packages, trust between the parents and the public sector JVs, and risks as perceived by the local governments. The case findings not only reveal how local governments struggle with adequate outcome control but also highlight how and why they rely on behavioral control. A related finding is that while the probability of poor business performance does not have a significant impact on the design of the vertical control packages, the social impact of failure has the potential to create a sense of urgency with regard to changes in the design of vertical management control packages.

Originality/value – This study adds to the literature on interorganizational relationships by providing insight into the use of vertical management control packages in the specific, but relevant, setting of public sector JVs.

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