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Creating dynamic tensions through a balanced use of management control systems

Julia Mundy

Accounting, Organizations and Society, 2010, vol. 35, issue 5, pages 499-523

Abstract: This paper explores how organisations balance controlling and enabling uses of management control systems (MCS), and how this balance facilitates the creation of dynamic tensions and unique organisational capabilities. By employing Simons' (1995) levers of control framework in a case study setting, the paper investigates the challenges faced by senior managers when they use MCS simultaneously to direct and empower. The findings indicate a number of factors - internal consistency, logical progression, historical tendency, dominance, and suppression - that impact the capacity of organisations to balance different uses of MCS. The interactive lever of control also plays a significant role in achieving and sustaining a balance between controlling and enabling uses of MCS, and its impact on the other levers is seen to constitute a unique organisational capability in its own right. The findings from this study offer an elaboration of how dynamic tensions are created through managers' attempts to balance controlling and enabling uses of MCS.

Date: 2010
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