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Article

Winnie O’Grady

This paper aims to consider the enabling and coercive features of formal control in non-hierarchical settings and the factors influencing perceptions of controls.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to consider the enabling and coercive features of formal control in non-hierarchical settings and the factors influencing perceptions of controls.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is a qualitative case study of a single organization. Data are collected via semi-structured interviews, a range of published materials and a management presentation. Analysis considered the features of coercive and enabling control at the level of individual controls.

Findings

In this highly decentralized organization, internal and global transparency predominate and help managers respond to contingencies in flexible ways. Managers cannot repair certain elements of controls to ensure there is stability in an otherwise flexible system. The existence (absence) of enabling features combined with the type of controls (e.g. action or results controls) lacking enabling features influence managers’ perceptions of control.

Research limitations/implications

Few studies have considered formal controls in non-hierarchical organizations. The findings reveal the importance of minimally coercive control features in creating a stable structure for controlling performance. The findings may not be relevant to other hierarchical organizations.

Originality/value

The study is conducted in a highly decentralized context where managers have extensive autonomy (flexibility). The context allows the role of minimally coercive control features to be explored in an essentially enabling organizational setting.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 16 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

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Article

Marc Janka

This study aims to synthesize qualitative research in the accounting and management literature that builds on the concept of enabling formalization. The framework for the…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to synthesize qualitative research in the accounting and management literature that builds on the concept of enabling formalization. The framework for the meta-synthesis integrates formal management control system (MCS) design applying the package typology and two modes of MCS use, namely, diagnostic and interactive.

Design/methodology/approach

The meta-synthesis is based on 34 case studies gathered by a systematic literature search. Qualitative research mining software (Leximancer) was used to facilitate an initial analysis, upon which an in-depth manual analysis was conducted.

Findings

The findings indicate that the generic features of enabling formalization – specifically, flexibility and repair – help employees better deal with inevitable contingencies in their daily work through continuous self-improvement. In many circumstances, there is a need to change common organizational practices, which sometimes requires realignment to direct employee behavior toward goal congruence. The (temporary) coercion of employees does not seem to cause dysfunctional behavior or resistance as long as the broader MCS package follows the design features of enabling formalization – specifically, transparency. The interactive use of personnel/cultural controls appears to play a crucial role within the whole MCS package in balancing tensions between coercion and enabling formalization.

Originality/value

This study adds to the understanding of formal MCS design characteristics perceived by managers and employees as enabling. Furthermore, it shows how managers of these organizations use formal MCS under enabling formalization.

Details

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1832-5912

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Article

Suresh Cuganesan and Clinton Free

The authors examined how squad members within an Australian state police force perceived and attached enabling or coercive meanings to a suite of management control system…

Abstract

Purpose

The authors examined how squad members within an Australian state police force perceived and attached enabling or coercive meanings to a suite of management control system (MCS) changes that were new public management (NPM) inspired.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted a longitudinal case study of a large Australian state police department utilizing an abductive research design.

Findings

The authors found that identification processes strongly conditioned the reception of the MCS changes introduced. Initially, the authors observed mixed interpretations of controls as both enabling and coercive. Over time, these changes were seen to be coercive because they threatened interpersonal relationships and the importance and efficacy of squads in combating serious and organized crime.

Research limitations/implications

The authors contributed to MCSs literature by revealing the critical role that multifaceted relational and collective identification processes played in shaping interpretations of controls as enabling–coercive. The authors build on this to elaborate on the notion of employees’ centricity in the MCS design.

Practical implications

This study suggests that, in complex organizational settings, the MCS design and change should reckon with pre-existing patterns of employees’ identification.

Originality/value

The authors suggested shifting the starting point for contemplating the MCS change: from looking at how what employees do is controlled to how the change impacts and how employees feel about who they are. When applied to the MCS design, employee centricity highlights the value of collaborative co-design, attentiveness to relational identification between employees, feedback and interaction in place of inferred management expectations and traditional mechanistic approaches.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 34 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article

Tiina Henttu-Aho

This paper aims to investigate the emergence of the enabling characteristics of new budgetary practices and their implications for the role of controller.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the emergence of the enabling characteristics of new budgetary practices and their implications for the role of controller.

Design/methodology/approach

The longitudinal perspective of this qualitative case study is based on interviews of controllers and managers involved in budgetary work. This study monitored the four enabling characteristics of management control, namely, repair, internal transparency, global transparency and flexibility (Adler and Borys, 1996), related to the new budgeting practices in one global paper company.

Findings

The findings of the study demonstrate that the implementation of rolling forecasting was a major attempt at “repair” to remedy the incompleteness of accounting information, which made controllers experts in producing and delivering more realistic forward-looking information in the organization. The increasing internal and global transparency of new budgetary practices enabled controllers at various levels of organization to develop new competences, which helped controller network to build a holistic view of the totality of control and supply more relevant information in organization. Moreover, the inherent flexibility of the system was a major condition for improving organizational effectiveness in budgetary work. However, the study shows that the controller’s attitude towards enabling formalization is not necessarily positive if the system is not aligned with professional mindset and competence.

Originality/value

This study adds to the understanding of the complementarity between new developments of budgeting and controller role by addressing the enabling uses of management control systems, which have the potential to enhance the controller role change.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

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Article

Laurence Ferry and Thomas Ahrens

Within the context of recent post-localism developments in the English local government, this paper aims to show, first, how management controls have become more enabling

Abstract

Purpose

Within the context of recent post-localism developments in the English local government, this paper aims to show, first, how management controls have become more enabling in response to changes in rules of public sector corporate governance and, secondly, how changes in management control systems gave rise to new corporate governance practices.

Design/methodology/approach

Theoretically, the paper mobilises the concept of enabling control to reflect on contemporary changes in public sector corporate governance. It draws on the International Federation of Accountants’ (IFAC) and Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) new public sector governance and management control system model and data gathered from a longitudinal qualitative field study of a local authority in North East England. The field study used interviews, observation and documentation review.

Findings

This paper suggests specific ways in which the decentralisation of policymaking and performance measurement in a local authority (present case) gave rise to enabling corporate governance and how corporate governance and management control practices went some way to aid in the pursuit of the public interest. In particular, it shows that the management control system can be designed at the operational level to be enabling. The significance of global transparency for supporting corporate governance practices around public interest is observed. This paper reaffirms that accountability is but one element of public sector corporate governance. Rather, public sector corporate governance also pursues integrity, openness, defining outcomes, determining interventions, leadership and capacity and risk and performance management.

Practical implications

Insights into uses of such enabling practices in public sector corporate governance are relevant for many countries in which public sector funding has been cut, especially since the 2007/2008 global financial crisis.

Originality/value

This paper introduces the concept of enabling control into the public sector corporate governance and control debate by fleshing out the categories of public sector corporate governance and management control suggested recently by IFAC and CIPFA drawing on observed practices of a local government entity.

Details

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, vol. 13 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1832-5912

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Article

June Borge Doornich, Katarina Kaarbøe and Anatoli Bourmistrov

This paper aims to explore how changes in the coercive and enabling orientations of the organizational rule system influence the attention managers pay to rules.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore how changes in the coercive and enabling orientations of the organizational rule system influence the attention managers pay to rules.

Design/methodology/approach

The findings of a case study covering a multinational energy company, which are interpreted based on insights from the coercive/enabling bureaucracy literature and the evolution of rules literature, help explain how rules can direct attention.

Findings

The findings suggest that the tensions between corporate management’s intentions for an organization’s rule system and the attention middle (country) managers pay to those rules were the main driver of dialectic changes in the rule system. The more coercive the rule system became, the more middle managers diverted their attention away from rule compliance. The paper shows how the dialect change process constituted a dynamic interaction between mindful “rule setters” and mindful “rule followers.” The alignment between intentions and attention was reestablished by better balancing the coercive and enabling orientations of the rule system: enabling better flexibility, enhancing internal transparency based on local business logic and improving global transparency through closer alignment of local and global growth and efficiency goals. Surprisingly, the repair characteristic was not as important.

Originality/value

The findings contribute to the literature by showing how the enabling and coercive characteristics of an organizational rule system constitute managerial attention artifacts. The paper demonstrates how tensions between corporate intentions and local contingencies in the context of global organizations can lead to constrictive change and create a win-win situation for both central and local actors by better balancing the coercive and enabling orientations of the rule system. It also offers new insights into the dialectic change process in an organization’s rule system based on attention view toward organizational rules.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 16 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

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Article

Rodney Coyte

The purpose of this paper is to examine how an enabling management control system (MCS) affected intellectual capital (IC) development in an organisation. The study…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how an enabling management control system (MCS) affected intellectual capital (IC) development in an organisation. The study explores the effect of a change from a coercive to an enabling control system on situated learning and the development of IC.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study was conducted in a large manufacturing organisation to explore the effect of a redesigned MCS on IC development. Semi-structured interviews were used to elicit understanding of the effect of the new system on situated learning and valuable local knowledge and relationship development.

Findings

The enabling way in which the MCS was designed introduced empowerment and accountability for financial and operational performance at all levels of the organisational hierarchy, which stimulated situated learning in a way that developed the organisation’s IC.

Originality/value

New insight is provided into the way management accounting practice can deliver valuable outcomes to organisations. First, into how MCSs design can stimulate the development of valuable local knowledge and relationships as IC. Second, into how MCS design can affect non-management employees. While prior studies have focussed on managers, this research is novel in showing how enabling controls affect non-management employees.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Content available
Article

Robert van Kalsbeek, Manda Broekhuis and Kees Jan Roodbergen

The purpose of this paper is to understand which controlling and enabling practices are used, how the numerous supplying partners are managed and how positive network…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to understand which controlling and enabling practices are used, how the numerous supplying partners are managed and how positive network effects are generated in online service triads (multi-sided platform – supplying partners – consumers).

Design/methodology/approach

A single representative in-depth case study was conducted to refine theory on managing service triads. The main data source consists of field notes collected by one author, who held a temporary position within the organization. Additional data were collected from observations, internal documents, informal talks and 20 interviews.

Findings

The authors found controlling and enabling organizational practices in four main categories on two levels as follows: managing network composition (system level), managing order fulfillment and returns (operations level), category management (both levels) and capability enhancement (both levels).

Research limitations/implications

The authors show that both controlling and enabling practices are present in online service triads. This enables platform owners and supplying partners to share responsibilities for creating positive network effects, i.e. to increase scale, which increases value, which again attracts more suppliers and consumers, which creates more value, etc.

Practical implications

The authors present a range of and controlling and enabling practices that describe how multi-sided platforms can manage numerous supplying partners in an online context.

Originality/value

This study is the first to show that contractual and relational governance is insufficient in service triads in online settings with numerous supplying partners. Further, the authors provide empirical evidence that supply networks continuously adapt over time.

Details

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-8546

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Book part

Robin R. Radtke and Sally K. Widener

The purpose of this chapter is to explore aspects of both enabling and coercive control usages and to extend the literature stream by integrating relevant ethical…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this chapter is to explore aspects of both enabling and coercive control usages and to extend the literature stream by integrating relevant ethical variables at both the level of the individual and the group. We also provide multiple ideas for future research studies.

Methodology/approach

An overview of prior literature in management control systems is presented with an aim toward identifying gaps in research knowledge.

Findings

As a result of our investigation into the intersection between management control and ethics, it is evident that there are many future areas ripe for enquiry.

Research implications

This study contributes theoretically by conceptualizing the integration of ethical considerations with how control systems are used, and then offering ideas for future research directions.

Originality/value

Our research investigates the intersection between management control and ethics. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to delve into this critical area.

Details

Performance Measurement and Management Control: Contemporary Issues
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-915-2

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Article

Kevin Baird, Sophia Su and Rahat Munir

This study aims to reinforce the important role of management control systems (MCSs) in managing change through adopting a unique approach to the conceptualisation of…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to reinforce the important role of management control systems (MCSs) in managing change through adopting a unique approach to the conceptualisation of Simons’ (1995) levers of control, specifically focussing on the enabling (beliefs and interactive) and constraining (boundary and diagnostic) levers of control and empirically examining their association with management innovation and organisational performance.

Design/methodology/approach

A mail survey questionnaire was used to collect data, with the Dillman (2007) tailored design method used in regards to the development of questions, and the personalisation and distribution procedures. A total of 645 questionnaires were distributed to either the Financial Controller or Chief Financial Officer of manufacturing business units identified in the OneSource database.

Findings

The findings reveal that the use of enabling controls was directly associated with organisational performance and with three management innovation dimensions (new structures, processes and practices) with new structures positively associated with organisational performance. It was also found that the use of constraining controls was indirectly, through the extent of adoption of new management techniques, associated with organisational performance.

Practical implications

The findings have important implications for managers in respect to how they use controls to enhance innovation and organisational performance.

Originality/value

The findings highlight the importance of the use of MCS, specifically both enabling and constraining controls, in facilitating change (management innovation) and performance. Hence, the findings provide empirical evidence in support of Simons’ (1995, 2000) theoretical assertion that the levers coexist to provide benefits to organisations.

Details

Pacific Accounting Review, vol. 31 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0114-0582

Keywords

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