Management Control Systems as a Package—Opportunities, Essay

10080 Words May 18th, 2010 41 Pages
Management Accounting Research 19 (2008) 287–300

Management control systems as a package—Opportunities, challenges and research directions
Teemu Malmi a,∗ , David A. Brown b
a

Department of Accounting & Finance, Helsinki School of Economics, Finland b School of Accounting, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

Abstract There has been very little explicit theoretical and empirical research on the concept of management control systems (MCS) as a package despite the existence of the idea in management accounting literature for decades. In this editorial we discuss a range of ways researchers have defined MCS and the problems this has created. We provide a new typology for MCS structured around five groups: planning, cybernetic
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However, studying these systems individually may influence any conclusions we can draw, if the use and impact of a new MCS element is related to the functioning of the existing broader MCS package. Thirdly, a major focus of MCS theory is how to design MCS in order to produce the desired outcomes. While much management accounting research has studied accounting-based controls and this is typically focussed on formal systems, there is still limited understanding of the impact of other types of control (such as administrative or cultural) and whether/how they complement or substitute for each other in different contexts. Gaining a broader understanding of MCS as a package may facilitate the development of better theory of how to design a range of controls to support organisational objectives, control activities, and drive organisational performance. By taking a broader package approach to the study of MCS, researchers will be able to develop better theory of the real impact of innovations such as the BSC, and how to design MCS packages. However, this raises questions about the kinds of challenges which exist in the study of MCS as a package. 2. Challenges in studying MCS as a package While there are…