The impact of society on management control systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The aim of this study is to investigate whether certain configurations of management controls dominate in certain societies (socio-cultural contexts) and whether the effectiveness of a given archetype of management control systems (MCSs) varies depending on the socio-cultural setting-the society-in which it operates. The study focuses on three socio-cultural groups and the corresponding institutional contexts (an Anglo-Saxon group, a Central European group, and a Northern European group) and three MCS archetypes (delegated bureaucratic control, delegated output control, and programmable output control). We use unique data from a cross-national, interview-based survey encompassing 610 strategic business units from nine countries (seven European countries plus Canada and Australia). The idea that firms tend to adapt MCSs to the socio-cultural context does not gain empirical support in this study. No significant differences in the distribution of MCSs between the three socio-cultural groups are noted. However, we do find that programmable output control has a more positive impact on effectiveness in Anglo-Saxon cultures, while delegated output control has a more positive impact on effectiveness in Northern Europe. Taken together these findings indicate that distinct differences between societies make a particular MCS design more appropriate in a given society, but where such differences are not dramatic (as in the present case), multiple MCS designs can be found in the same society.


  • Jan Greve
  • Christian Ax
  • David S. Bedford
  • Piotr Bednarek
  • Rolf Brühl
  • Angelo Ditillo
  • Andrea Dossi
  • Maurice Gosselin
  • Sophie Hoozée
  • Poul Israelsen
  • Otto Janschek
  • Daniel Johanson
  • Tobias Johansson
  • Dag Øivind Madsen
  • Teemu Malmi
  • Carsten Rohde
  • Mikko Sandelin
  • Torkel Strömsten
  • Thomas Toldbod
  • Jeanette Willert
External organisations
  • Örebro University
  • University of Gothenburg
  • University of Technology Sydney
  • Laval University
  • Ghent University
  • Aalborg University
  • Aalto University
  • Stockholm School of Economics
  • Wrocław University of Economics
  • ESMT European School of Management and Technology
  • Bocconi University
  • Vienna University of Economics and Business
  • Norwegian School of Economics
  • Karlstad University
  • University College of Southeast Norway
  • Copenhagen Business School
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Business Administration


  • Bureaucratic control, Business systems, Contingency framework, Output control, Societal institutions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-266
JournalScandinavian Journal of Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch

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