تحقیقات تجربی از رابطه بین استفاده از سرمایه انسانی استراتژیک و طراحی سیستم کنترل مدیریت
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|16265||2004||23 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Accounting, Organizations and Society, Volume 29, Issues 3–4, April–May 2004, Pages 377–399
This study integrates transaction cost economics and contingency theory to investigate how differences in the use of strategic human capital are associated with the design of a firm's management control system (MCS). The use of strategic human capital is hypothesized to positively influence the use of personnel and nontraditional controls while negatively influencing the use of traditional controls. Using survey data from 107 respondents, this study finds that the data do not support the hypothesized structural equation model. An alternative model is proposed that suggests only that the use of strategic human capital positively influences the use of personnel and nontraditional controls. This model is supported by the data.
It is widely accepted that a firm's management control system (MCS) is designed to support its strategy. Langfield-Smith (1997, p. 207) states that, “the MCS should be tailored explicitly to support the strategy of the business”. Ittner and Larcker (1997, p. 295) say, “a key assumption in the strategic control literature is the need to align specific control practices with the organization's chosen strategy”. Firm-level strategy variables have conceptualized strategic positioning in terms of cost leadership versus differentiation (e.g., Porter, 1980), strategic typologies in terms of prospectors versus defenders (e.g., Miles & Snow, 1978 and Simons, 1987) and strategic mission in terms of build, harvest, or hold (e.g., Gupta & Govindarajan, 1984). Researchers have also investigated the relation between the MCS and operational strategies such as quality (e.g., see Ittner & Larcker, 1995 and Ittner & Larcker, 1997) and customer-focus (e.g., Abernethy & Lillis, 1995 and Perera et al., 1997). But, Langfield-Smith (1997, p. 207) concludes, “our knowledge of the relationship between MCS and strategy is limited, providing considerable scope for further research”. An unexplored dimension of firm-level strategy is the firm's use of strategic resources that enable the firm to sustain its competitive advantage (Amit & Shoemaker, 1993). Specifically, this study examines the strategic resource of human capital, which includes the knowledge and skills of employees in a firm (Barney, 1991). In today's competitive environment, human capital, which enhances the knowledge of the firm, is a primary strategic resource of many firms (e.g., Quinn, Anderson, & Finkelstein, 1996). Thus, investigating how differences in the use of strategic human capital are associated with the design of the MCS is important, topical, and novel. In addition to being the first study to investigate how the use of a strategic resource affects the design of the MCS, this study makes three contributions to the literature. First, this study investigates a combination of controls including personnel controls, nontraditional results controls, and traditional results controls thus responding to criticism that a more comprehensive MCS should be studied (Fisher, 1995, Milgrom & Roberts, 1995 and Otley, 1994). Second, prior studies have limited themselves to investigating the affect that strategy, conceptualized broadly (e.g., prospector vs. defender), has on the design of the MCS (Langfield-Smith, 1997). This study measures four distinct attributes of a strategic resource, which include its (1) importance to the firm, (2) ambiguity (e.g., behavioral uncertainty), (3) firm-specificity, and (4) spread of use throughout the firm. Therefore, more in-depth insights are provided on the relation between strategy and the design of the MCS. Finally, investigating a combination of controls allows this study to provide insights on the trade-offs managers make between different types of controls when designing the MCS. This study uses structural equation modeling (SEM) to test the relation between the use of strategic human capital and the design of the MCS. In addition to testing individual path coefficients, SEM provides an evaluation of the entire model thus focusing the analysis at a macro-level perspective (Kline, 1998, p. 13) and allowing insights to be drawn about the MCS as a whole, rather than simply its parts. As illustrated in Fig. 1, this study hypothesizes that the four distinct attributes of strategic human capital (importance, behavioral uncertainty, firm-specificity, and spread of use) positively influence the use of personnel and nontraditional results controls and negatively influence the use of traditional results controls. Using survey data from 107 respondents, this study finds that the data do not support the hypothesized model. An alternative model is proposed that suggests only that the use of strategic human capital positively influences the use of personnel and nontraditional results controls (e.g., removes the relation with traditional results controls). This model is supported by the data.This study is organized as follows. The second section provides an overview of strategic human capital and the management control system. Section three develops the underlying theory and hypotheses. The Methods section discusses the research method and measurement of the variables. The analyses and results are presented in the Results section. Finally, conclusions, limitations, and extensions are discussed in the Conclusion.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Extant literature provides evidence that firms align strategic choices with the design of the MCS. This study extends this finding and provides several interesting insights. First, this study uses SEM to provide a macro-view of the design of the MCS, thus shifting the focus of the study from the significance of individual regression equations to a broad look at the MCS. The study investigates a model that includes a combination of controls including personnel, nontraditional and traditional results controls. Although there are many significant path coefficients the overall model is rejected indicating that the use of strategic human capital does not explain the overall design of the MCS. An alternative model is developed that suggests that strategic choices may influence only the personnel and nontraditional components of the MCS and finds that the data do support the alternative model. Thus, overall, the results suggest that strategic choices influence the design of personnel and nontraditional results controls within the MCS, but not the traditional component of the MCS. This is an interesting insight since it is one of the few studies to provide an overall look at a MCS that includes multiple types of controls. Moreover, implicitly the results suggest that firms are adding nontraditional and personnel controls to their traditional MCS. 22 This finding is consistent with the notion of the balanced scorecard, which suggests that firms implement a balanced set of both traditional and nontraditional measures across four perspectives. In other words, firms will rely on a core set of financial measures and then add additional nontraditional measures aligned with the firms' strategy. This insight is supported by data gathered during the initial interviews. Managers with firms that rely on strategic human capital provided statements such as “we do rely heavily on budgets and compare our actual results and our forecasts frequently against budget” and “on a detailed level we monitor by cost center”, thus showing that firms do rely heavily on traditional financial measures even when they rely heavily on an intangible asset as a strategic resource. In general, the interviews revealed an absence of reliance on nontraditional controls in firms that do not rely heavily on strategic human capital and an addition of nontraditional controls to supplement the traditional control measures in firms that rely heavily on strategic human capital. This study also looks at multiple attributes of the strategic resource. Measuring the importance, firm-specificity, behavioral uncertainty, and the spread of the strategic human capital throughout the firm allows the study to provide more in-depth insights and extend the Spekle (2001) framework that links transaction cost economics with the design of the MCS. In addition, it provides the following three insights. First, it is important to note that these attributes are not all strongly correlated. Firms may believe their use of strategic human capital is important, yet the strategic human capital may not possess firm-specific knowledge or perform tasks in an ambiguous manner. Thus, firms may emphasize the use of strategic human capital as a short-term strategy without concern for either imitability or mobility of the human capital. In contrast, the importance of strategic human capital is correlated with the spread of strategic human capital through the firm thus it appears that if firms utilize strategic human capital to sustain their competitive advantage (e.g., long-term focus), they obtain a critical mass of it within their firm. Second, it is interesting to note that the importance of strategic human capital influences both personnel and nontraditional results controls, while firm-specific knowledge and behavioral uncertainty only influence the personnel control. Thus firms rely heavily on an ex ante control to prevent the potential of opportunistic behavior that may result from firm-specificity or behavioral uncertainty, instead of trying to control the behavior ex post. This supports and extends Abernethy and Brownell (1997) who find that personnel controls are effective in research and development organizations where there is high behavioral uncertainty, or task uncertainty, present. This study finds that contingency theory provides the understanding for the implementation of nontraditional controls, while both contingency theory and transaction cost economics explain the use of personnel controls. 23 Finally, firms take into account the numbers associated with the use of strategic human capital and increase their emphasis on both personnel and nontraditional results controls when large numbers of strategic human capital are present. This study incorporates both contingency theory and TCE to provide added depth in the insights that arise from studying the alignment of strategy and the MCS. However, similar to most studies, this one does have limitations. First, the sample of 107 respondents is not large enough to estimate a stable SEM model that includes both the measurement and structural models. Although the factor analysis and reliability of the measures are strong, and a validity check shows that the SEM results are generally robust for a full model, an opportunity to strengthen the findings of this study would be to test the model on a larger database. Second, unfortunately, survey space is limited thus this study uses five proxies to capture the three MCS constructs. Although, the proxies were chosen based on underlying literature and their importance to firms, there are other proxies for personnel, traditional, and nontraditional results controls. For example, this study uses selective staffing to proxy for personnel controls; however, another dimension of personnel controls is the training and development of personnel. Snell (1992) uses a set of questions that captures both dimensions of personnel controls (training/development and staffing/selection). The set of questions is uni-dimensional thus providing reassurance that staffing/selection and training/development share common variance, and thus the use of staffing/selection adequately captures the broader construct of personnel controls. However, to the extent that training/development and staffing/selection do not share common variance in this particular setting, this study may not fully capture the construct. The last limitation stems from the finding that the use of strategic human capital does not influence the use of traditional controls; rather, the use of strategic human capital only explains the nontraditional and personnel control components of the MCS. Plausible explanations for this finding include the age of the firm, switching costs, and/or alternative benefits; however, data limitations do not allow me to disentangle these explanations. First, the sample in this study is primarily comprised of large, stable, manufacturing firms that presumably have a MCS in place that is changing as the firm's reliance on strategic resources changes. Firms may have invested heavily in the design and implementation of the MCS (e.g., high sunk costs) and find that adding nontraditional controls to their system is more cost effective than completely overhauling the MCS and replacing traditional controls with nontraditional controls. This result could be quite different if the study focused on start-up firms that were designing their MCS for the first time. Another plausible explanation is that the switching costs involved in changing from traditional controls to nontraditional controls are too costly. For example, firms would need to engage in costly communication and education efforts when replacing familiar, comfortable controls with new, nontraditional controls (Malina & Selto, 2001). The switching costs involved might outweigh the costs of simply adding additional controls to the system. Finally, another reason for this finding could be that traditional controls provide alternative benefits thus facilitating the effectiveness of managers in making other decisions within the firm. Consequently, removing these measures from the firm's MCS could be quite costly. A study that captures the age of the firm, sunk costs of the design of the MCS, switching costs, and alternative uses of various controls could perhaps tease out the alternative explanations for the insight drawn here that nontraditional controls are complementary to traditional controls.