Management Control Systems

Management Control Systems (MCS) of corporations are central devices to guide behavior of managers and employees. Their overall goal is to direct and coordinate activities so that corporate objectives are fulfilled. The complexity of MCS is the grounded in a lot of different practices: strategic and operational planning, budgeting, balanced scorecards, incentive systems etc. In addition to these formal sytems, informal systems, for instance organizational culture, are important for guiding behavior.


Although we have studies about MCS and about some MCS practices, we still lack studies about the MCS as a package. This approach assumes that MCS are configured (intended or unintended) and that some configurations are more effective than other configurations. Taking an international view on configurations, we are interested about configurations in different countries (or cultural regions).


An international research team from nine European countries, Australia and Canada investigates MCS in these countries. Teemu Malmi (project leader) and over twenty researchers from Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy,  Norway, Poland, Sweden explore how and which configurations of MCS prevail in their home countries.


The aim of a first publication (Greve et al., 2017) 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 (MCSs) varies depending on the socio-cultural setting —the society —in which it operates. The 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. (Quoted from the abstract of Greve et al., 2017)


In another project, one subgroup investigates the influence of cultural values on MCS. We compare MCS of corporations in Belgium, Canady, Germany,  and Poland in order to show how prevalent participation in strategic and operational planning is in these countries. Moreover, we explore the influence of cultural values - power distance or uncertainty avoidance - on participation in MCS.


Research partners

Christian Ax, University of Gothenburg, Sweden; David Bedford, University of Technology Sydney, Australia; Piotr Bednarek,Wrocław University of Economics, Poland; Johan Dergård, Lund University, Sweden; Angelo Ditillo, Università Bocconi, Italy; Andrea Dossi, Università Bocconi, Italy; Maurice Gosselin, Université Laval, Canada; Jan Greve, Örebro University, Sweden; Michael Hanzlick, Germany; Sophie Hoozée, Ghent University, Belgium; Poul Israelsen, Aalborg University, Denmark; Otto Janschek, University of Economics and Business Vienna, Austria; Daniel Johansson, Norwegian School of Economics, Norway, Tobias Johansson, Örebro University, Sweden; Dag Øivind Madsen, University College of Southeast Norway, Norway; Teemu Malmi, Aalto University, Finland; Carsten Rohde, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark; Mikko Sandelin, Aalto University, Finland; Torkel Strömsten, Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden; Thomas Toldbod, Aalborg University, Denmark; Jeanette Willert, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark 


Malmi, T.; Bedford, D. S.; Brühl, R.; Dergård, J.; Hoozée, S.; Janschek, O.; Willert, J.; Ax, C.; Bednarek, P.; Gosselin, M.; Israelsen, P.; Johanson, D.; Johansson, T.; Madsen, D.; Rohde, C.; Sandelin, M.; Strömsten T.; and Toldbod, T.: Culture and management control interdependence: an analysis of complementary control choices to delegation in different cultural regions, in: Accounting, Organizations and Society, Volume 86, 2020, Article 101116 (to the article).


Greve, J.; Ax, C.; Bedford, D. S.; Bednarek, P.; Brühl, R.; Dergård, J.;Ditillo, A.; Dossi, A.; Gosselin, M.; Hoozée, S.; Israelsen, P.; Janschek, O.; Johanson, D.; Johansson, T.; Madsen, D.; Malmi, T.; Rohde, C.; Sandelin, M.; Strömsten, T.; Toldbod, T.; Willert, J.: The impact of society on management control systems, in: Scandinavian Journal of Management, 33(4), 2017, S. 253-266 (to the article). 


Bednarek, Piotr; Brühl, Rolf; Hanzlick, Michael: Long-range planning and cross-cultural research. A literature review, in: Global challenges of management control and reporting, Research Papers of Wrocław University of Economics, Heft 441, 2016, S. 9-20 (to the article).


Hanzlick, Michael, Brühl, Rolf: Die Kopplung von Controlling-Systemen, in Controlling & Management Review, Februar 2013, Band 57, Ausgabe 2, S. 66-70.


Hanzlick, Michael; Brühl, Rolf: Management Control Systems as a package. Preliminary findings in Germany. Academic Research Reports of Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Volume 13, Issue 2, London, 2013. (Download)


See also the dissertation of  Michael Hanzlick: Management Control Systems and Cross-Cultural Research, Eul Verlag: Lohmar, 2015.

(Link to the publisher)