تأثیرات درون سازمانی در تأمین تجهیزات شبکه های کنترل: تاثیر فن آوری اطلاعات
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|16917||2006||30 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||14702 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Management Accounting Research, Volume 17, Issue 2, June 2006, Pages 141–170
This study is motivated out of a two-fold concern for how intra-organisational influences generally, and information technology specifically, impact upon control mechanisms in procurement networks. Utilising actor–network theory, the study examines two relational dimensions of procurement networks within actor–network space: inter-organisational relations between buyers and suppliers that comprise the procurement network and intra-organisational relations among actors within buyer organisations in particular. In doing so, the study addresses the inadequate consideration of intra-organisational influences in the literature examining the management control of networks. In addition, the study highlights the fluidity of inter-organisational control mixes, contrasting with prevailing notions of ‘fit’ between control mechanisms and a given transactional setting. Information technology is specifically focused upon because it increasingly mediates inter-organisational collaboration, yet its consequences are unclear and the extant literature in the area is formative. Thus, the study also contributes to extant understandings of the control effects of information technology within procurement networks.
This study investigates the impact of information technology upon mechanisms for controlling inter-organisational networks. Networks continue to be promoted as a means of: responding to heightened competition; sharing costs and risks; keeping apace of constantly renewed information. In the global economy, new possibilities are relentlessly created within networks whilst, outside of networks, organisational survival is increasingly difficult (Castells, 2000). Indeed, most economic activity in leading industries is organised through networks (Ernst, 1994). Of the various network types that have emerged, the most visible form of collaboration has been in the area of procurement (Heide and Stump, 1995). More recently, there has been pre-occupation with the use of technology in the area of procurement (Davila et al., 2003). Consequently, it is the procurement network that is examined in this study; with an emphasis on how such networks are impacted when confronted with information technology based organisational change. The motivations for the study are two-fold. Firstly, despite generally positive views of networks and inter-organisational collaboration, there is growing evidence of failure (Langfield-Smith and Smith, 2003). This has initiated a renewed concern about the form and efficacy of control mechanisms that operate within outsourced arrangements and procurement networks (see, for example, Anderson et al., 2000, Dekker, 2004, Hopwood, 1996, Langfield-Smith and Smith, 2003, Tomkins, 2001 and Van der Meer-Kooistra and Vosselman, 2000). In response, this body of research has begun to theories and explore the inter-relationships between different forms of control and their antecedents. However, the linkages between intra- and inter-organisational relations has been overlooked thus far and remains an area requiring further research (Langfield-Smith and Smith, 2003 and Van der Meer-Kooistra and Vosselman, 2000). Secondly, despite the increasing use of information technology within procurement networks, the impacts of its implementation are unclear. Indeed, many commentators have observed that the complex dynamics of information technology-based organisational change have been relatively unexplored in a network setting (see, for example, Chan and Swatman, 2000). Early observations on the use of technology to create electronic procurement (e-procurement) networks were extremely enthusiastic about the potential benefits of doing so (see, for example, Cronin, 1994, Iskandar et al., 2001, Lloyd and Boyle, 1998 and Tapscott, 1995).1 However, a number of e-procurement networks and marketplaces have been abandoned in recent times.2 Furthermore, the use of technology in procurement has been described as facilitating the realignment of power relations in favour of buyer organisations (Evans and Wurster, 1997 and Frances and Garnsey, 1996), and adversely impacting buyer–supplier relations by shifting the basis of competition towards price (Fraser et al., 2000, Porter, 2001 and Sinha, 2000). In light of these diverse possibilities, the investigation of information technology and its effects for the control of procurement networks is considered to be timely, if not imperative. In addressing both of the above concerns, this study follows the introduction of information technology in a network of procurement that connected multiple buyers and sellers for the transacting of “indirect goods and services” or “indirect spend”.3 It investigates the impacts of this e-procurement technology for extant controls in both the inter-organisational and intra-organisational relationships that co-existed in the procurement network. In doing so, the paper makes two main contributions to the literature on inter-organisational control. Firstly, the paper presents a strong counter-point and a novel perspective to extant models that identify inter-organisational control patterns and their antecedents. These models presume a fit between control mechanisms and a given transaction setting whereby particular control mechanisms are chosen in response to particular transactional characteristics. In doing so, these models ‘black-box’ organisations, focusing on the inter-organisational transactional context to the detriment of intra-organisational influences. In contrast, this study employs actor–network theory to examine the relations between actors within and across constituents to inter-firm arrangements. As a result of ‘opening up’ buyer organisations in particular, the study finds that control mechanism changes occurred as a result of organisational participants pursuing their interests rather than a change in the transactional setting per se. Indeed, a possibility that runs counter to the models developed thus far is evidenced here, in that the choices and actions of interested organisational participants altered transactional characteristics (in particular, how it was constructed and perceived by actors). Thus, in contrast and difference to prior literature, the study finds a reconfiguration of control mechanisms that was shaped by the actions of interested organisational participants, in turn altering the transaction setting itself. Secondly, the paper addresses the relative lack of empirical investigation into the widespread use of information technology to mediate buyer–supplier relations. The paper explicates how the information technology implemented within the procurement network not only had important control consequences in itself but also influenced the mix of pre-existing control mechanisms in different ways. Furthermore, in contrast to the small group of studies that describe information technology as unproblematically reinforcing prevailing dominant interests, this study finds that suppliers were not merely passive victims of information technology. Rather, they were able to utilise its effects to their own ends and enhance the stability of procurement relationships, consequences that were unintended by those introducing the technology in the first place. Information technology provided both buyers and suppliers with an enhanced ability to act upon each other through a dialectic of accounting control. The paper is structured as follows. The next section reviews the literature that has described inter-organisational control mechanisms and their antecedents. The theoretical frame and site used for the research are presented in Sections 3 and 4, respectively, while the results of the empirical investigation are presented in the fifth section. The paper ends with a synthesis of its main findings, contributions and limitations.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study was motivated out of a two-fold concern for how intra-organisational influences and information technology specifically impacted upon control mechanisms in procurement networks. The study addresses a gap in the literature examining the management control of inter-organisational networks; namely, the inadequate consideration of intra-organisational influences. Specifically, the study sought to avoid the black-boxing of organisations that characterises previous studies of inter-organisational control patterns and their antecedents. It does this by employing ANT to examine two relational dimensions of procurement networks within actor–network space: inter-organisational relations between buyers and suppliers that comprise the procurement network and intra-organisational relations among actors within buyer organisations in particular. Information technology and its effects are focused upon because inter-organisational collaboration is increasingly mediated and influenced by information technology, yet its consequences are unclear and the extant literature in the area is formative. As such, the study explores the intersect between information technology and control within a single network of procurement for indirect categories of spend. Across both relational dimensions in the network, information technology was seen to reshape the enactment of control. Prior to the development of MroNet, market-based controls and price-based competition, in particular, dominated inter-organisational control mixes. While accounting controls featured, their measurement was difficult, and often ‘soft’ measures were relied upon. Thus, it was the tender processes employed by SSGs that acted as the primary inscription device, rendering approved suppliers calculable vis-à-vis the broader marketplace. As such, suppliers found it difficult to remain visible to buyers, often risking ‘oblivion’ at annual tender times irrespective of their performance levels. The main control problem for procurement professionals located in SSGs involved recalcitrant line-personnel engaging in ‘maverick spend’, which resulted in higher prices being paid to non-approved suppliers and undermined their ability to negotiate favourable price and service levels with approved suppliers. The inability of SSGs to act at a distance and control how other intra-organisational elements (line-personnel) interacted with inter-organisational elements (suppliers) was the primary influence in the introduction of technology to the actor–network. Through mediating buyer–supplier relations, MroNet prescribed a particular procurement order through its script, requiring line-personnel to transact with approved suppliers. Importantly, these effects were non-deterministic. Line-personnel had to be enrolled and ‘interested’ to use MroNet, with an (apparent) empowerment over the procurement task offered in this regard. Thus, simultaneous with the decentralisation of control was its centralisation as embedded in the technology and its rules (Bloomfield and Coombs, 1992). Concurrently, MroNet had significant impacts on the inter-organisational control mix. MroNet enhanced the volume of business incentive used to enrol suppliers as a result of the aggregation benefits popularly ascribed to e-procurement technologies (Porter, 2001). Importantly, MroNet also provided buyers with an improved ability to deliver on promises, its intra-organisational control impacts helping to ensure that indirect spend went to approved suppliers. MroNet's effect on accounting controls was also considerable. The data warehouse that underpinned the technology imbued network acted as an inscription device, offering novel information possibilities that resulted in a refinement and greater utilisation of accounting controls, and new visibilities into supplier performance. However, suppliers were not passive, utilising the resultant inscriptions to make visible their performance and shape buyer activities in shifting accountabilities and ‘locking-in’ buyers to procurement relations. A dialectic of accounting control manifested. Overall, inter- and intra-organisational relations within the procurement network were found to be mutually constitutive. The first contribution the paper makes relates to the predictive models for inter-organisational control that have been developed thus far (see, for example, Das and Teng, 2001, Dekker, 2004, Speklé, 2001 and Van der Meer-Kooistra and Vosselman, 2000). As a counterpoint to these models, an alternative perspective grounded in ANT is offered here, which eschews the presumption of controls as possessing inherent or predetermined effects in favour of seeing control as determined in the network of relations between purposive actors. It is submitted that such a perspective adds novel insights to the literature on antecedents for inter-organisational control. The predictive models developed thus far have been largely predicated on an alignment between transaction characteristics and the control problems that rise on the one hand, and the organisational form and mechanisms developed to control these on the other, with this alignment explainable in terms of efficiency and effectiveness (Speklé, 2001). Hence, according to these models, the characteristics of the inter-organisational transaction generate control problems. These are to be solved with a mix of control mechanisms that possess the required effects to do so. In contrast to this notion that particular control mechanisms will be chosen in response to particular transactional characteristics, a more fluid relationship was observed in this study. The enhancement in the volume of business incentive and the increased use of accounting controls was due to procurement professionals within SSGs introducing technology to aggregate spend and control line-personnel. The inter-organisational transaction setting by itself was not seen as presenting ‘control problems’ to be solved with the changed control mix. Instead, control mechanism changes occurred as a result of organisational participants pursuing their interests, rather than a change in the transactional setting per se. Indeed, it can be argued that the choices made by interested organisational participants altered how transactional characteristics were constructed and perceived. 13 As a result of investing in the design of MroNet, and the subsequent actions of suppliers using ‘data intelligence’ to change buyer processes and create greater inter-linkages between them, the apparent specificity of indirect spend transactions, and procedural asset specificity in particular, were increased. 14 Thus, in contrast to the popular narrative of the design and operation of controls reacting to changes in ‘transaction context’, the study finds a reconfiguration of control mechanisms that was shaped by the actions of interested organisational participants that also altered the transaction setting itself. Through ‘opening up’ buyer organisations in particular, new perspectives and possibilities are revealed which contrast to the efficacy-based explanations that dominate the extant literature and begin to recognise the fluidity in control mixes ( Tomkins, 2001) and the important influences that intra-organisational conditions can have over inter-organisational control. The second main contribution this paper makes to the literature on inter-organisational control involves the consideration of information technology. Thus far, little detail exists on the impact of technology on specific control mechanisms in inter-organisational arrangements. Here, information technology had multiple and complex control effects. Not only did it have control consequences through the embedding of a script and the prescription of order on buyers and suppliers, it also resulted in a reconfiguration of extant control mechanisms. Accounting controls in particular were promoted within control mixes alongside the market-based controls that were conventionally relied upon to control suppliers. Through information technology as an inscription device, a greater utilisation of accounting controls occurred. Furthermore, the small group of studies that have examined information technology within inter-organisational networks are characterised by a narrative whereby information technology serves to unproblematically reinforce and reproduce prevailing dominant interests. By focusing on the specifics of how elements to an actor–network attempt to act over others, suppliers were seen as other than merely passive victims of information technology. Instead, they were able to utilise its effects to their own ends. Unintended consequences through information technology thus resulted, with suppliers better able to make visible their performance, ‘lock-in’ buyers and stabilise network relations. Overall, the ability of both buyers and suppliers to act on each other was mutually enhanced through information technology and the dialectic of accounting control that manifested. Through providing empirically based insights into how information technology influences the operation of other control mechanisms and procurement networks more generally, this paper adds to extant understandings of technology-enabled inter-organisational arrangements. The findings and contributions of this paper also have more practical implications. Those involved in creating tighter buyer–supplier linkages and opening up their systems to exchange partners in the pursuit of aggregation benefits, cost efficiencies, and/or transacting ease need to consider the secondary and perhaps unintended consequences of doing so. At MroNet, such actions lead to greater specificity of exchanges and transparency of both buyer and supplier actions. While this contributed to the stability of MroNet, the extent to which it does so in networks depends on the interests, relations and actions of the exchange partners. Indeed, it is conceivable that greater ‘data intelligence’ may be used to marginalise one exchange partner (be this buyer or supplier) while the increased asset specificity may impinge upon their ability to respond to this and/or exit the network. Another important consideration for managers of supplier networks in general is the link between supplier relations and the configuration of the procurement department. Decentralising the procurement function may make it difficult to standardise and control interactions with suppliers, and ensure that these occur in the manner desired. Indeed, the inability to control the act of purchasing may be detrimental to relationships with suppliers and the stability of the procurement network. Conversely, centralising procurement may result in delays and inefficiency as purchasing requirements need to be collected throughout the organisation and heavy order processing burdens may be placed on the procurement function. While information technology offered one means of ameliorating this trade-off at MroNet, the configuration of both intra- and inter-organisational relationships are important influences in the eventual “success” or “failure” of supply initiatives. In closing, the limitations of this study must be acknowledged. Firstly, interview access to line-personnel within buyer organisations could not be negotiated with gate-keepers, on the grounds that this was ‘sensitive’ (although these actors were directly observed through in situ data collection), while timing restrictions limited access to two supplier organisations. Thus, different perceptions and constructions to those presented here may not have been included in the study. Secondly, the findings presented here are derived from a study of a single case setting within a limited timeframe, and may manifest differently in other procurement networks contingent on actors, interests, relations between different elements and the way things are constructed. In addition, it is important to note that the findings presented here have been made within a particular setting; namely, indirect spend. Whether these can be replicated in procurement networks for more ‘important’ categories of products and services is an issue for future research. Another avenue for future research exists in relation to wider empirical examinations of the models developed thus far that attempt to connect control mechanisms to their antecedents and evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness ascribed to particular control mixes. Thus far, only limited applications of their prescriptions have occurred (for example, Dekker, 2004, Langfield-Smith and Smith, 2003 and Van der Meer-Kooistra and Vosselman, 2000). Furthermore, it is argued that diverse theoretical perspectives are required to reveal the complexity and fluidity of control in such arrangements. Finally, an important dynamic not investigated here involves the intersect between technology, trust and formal control mechanisms. Here, technology enabled new information possibilities and control consequences. However, these were shared across buyers and suppliers. Whether such outcomes impinge on, or engender, levels of trust in buyer–supplier relations remains another issue for future research.