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Encouraging strategic behaviour while maintaining management control: multi-functional project teams, budgets, and the negotiation of shared accountabilities in contemporary enterprises

Frow, Natalie, Marginson, David Evan Winston and Ogden, Stuart 2005. Encouraging strategic behaviour while maintaining management control: multi-functional project teams, budgets, and the negotiation of shared accountabilities in contemporary enterprises. Management Accounting Research 16 (3) , pp. 269-292. 10.1016/j.mar.2005.06.004

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Abstract

Recent work [e.g. Simons, R., 1995. Levers of Control: How Managers use Innovative Control Systems to Drive Strategic Renewal. Harvard Business School Press; Simons, R., 1999. Performance Measurement and Control Systems for Implementing Strategy. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ] suggests that traditional management control systems such as budgetary controls are being 'embedded' within a wider control framework which top management may use to influence and support both the formation and implementation of strategy. A further stream of literature points to significant changes in current organizational arrangements and management practices, involving boundary-spanning activities and the greater use of multi-functional project teams, which problematise notions of cybernetics, individual-level controllability and management-by-exception on which traditional approaches to management control are based [Ansari, S.L., 1979. Towards an open systems approach to budgeting. Acc. Organ. Society 4 (3), 149-161]. Consequently, managers increasingly find themselves having to balance their continued exposure to traditional budgetary controls and imperatives which measure progress towards predetermined financial targets, with the more broadly based but no less intense demands imposed by the need to pursue strategic initiatives. Drawing on evidence garnered from an intensive case study of a multinational organization, this paper explores the ways in which these potentially incompatible roles are reconciled within a framework of management control. Findings indicate that, while elements of the formal control structure, in particular budgetary controls, remain wedded to notions of cybernetics, individual-level accountability and management-by-exception, managers in attempts to pursue their strategic forcing roles become involved in interdependencies and team working which blur line responsibilities and accountabilities. The study suggests that the resulting tensions and issues created by these competing concepts tend to be managed through formally directed procedures, and informal channels of social interaction, both hierarchically and horizontally. In particular, the study highlights how managers appear able to address, through reference to the company's broad framework of control, the accepted lack of controllability by a variety of 'negotiated' arrangements for 'sharing' the discharge of individual accountabilities.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Budgets ; Management control ; Shared accountabilities ; Teamwork
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
ISSN: 1096-1224
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 22:05
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/2822

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