The impact of society on management control systems

Jan Greve*, Christian Ax, David S. Bedford, Piotr Bednarek, Rolf Brühl, Johan Dergård, 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 ToldbodJeanette Willert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-266
JournalScandinavian Journal of Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Bureaucratic control
  • Business systems
  • Contingency framework
  • Output control
  • Societal institutions


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