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Firms, Institutions and Management Control: the Comparative Analysis of Coordination and Control Systems

Опубликовано на портале: 24-03-2008
Accounting, Organizations and Society. 1999.  Vol. 24. No. 5-6. P. 507-524 . 
It is becoming increasingly recognized that management accounting and management control procedures and systems vary significantly between organizations, sectors and societies. Four characteristics of control systems, in particular, differ considerably between institutional contexts. These are: the extent to which control is exercised overwhelmingly through formal rules and procedures, the degree of control exercised over how unit activities are carried out, the influence and involvement of unit members in exercising control, and the scope of the information used by the control system in evaluating performance and deciding rewards and sanctions. These four characteristics can be combined to constitute four distinct types of control system: bureaucratic, output, delegated and patriarchal. The relative use of these kinds of control systems-and their effectiveness-reflect major variations in the kinds of organizations and firms that coordinate economic activities through administrative procedures, and their related institutional contexts. The key features of firms here are the diversity of activities coordinated, their rate of change, shareholder lock-in and the degree of owner management. These in turn reflect the nature of the financial system and state structures and policies. Additionally, the ways that skill development is organised in a society and skills are controlled in labour markets affect control techniques and practices, as do the nature of authority and trust relations. Thus, Taylorian control systems are unlikely to be widely used in countries where skill training is highly organised and controlled jointly by employers and unions-as for example in many Central and Northern European states, just as delegated ones are improbable in societies where systemic trust is low and authority patterns are patriarchal.

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