پیکربندی سیستم های کنترل مدیریت : نظریه پردازی ادغام استراتژی و پایداری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|16662||2012||19 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Management Accounting Research, Volume 23, Issue 3, September 2012, Pages 205–223
Although organizations have embraced the sustainability rhetoric in their discourse and external reporting, little is known about the processes whereby management control systems contribute to a deeper integration of sustainability within organizational strategy. This paper addresses this gap and mobilizes a configuration approach to theorize the roles and uses of management control systems (MCSs) and sustainability control systems (SCSs) in the integration of sustainability within organizational strategy. Building on Simons’ levers of control framework, we distinguish two possible uses of a MCS and a SCS—a diagnostic use and an interactive use—and we specify the modes of MCSs and SCSs integration. We rely on these two core dimensions to identify eight organizational configurations that reflect the various uses as well as their modes of integration of SCS and MCS. We characterize these ideal-type configurations, explain their impact on the triple bottom line, and describe which mechanisms allow organizations to move from one configuration to another. In so doing, we highlight various paths toward sustainability integration or marginalization within organizations. Finally, we explain how our framework can support future research on the role of MCS and SCSs in the integration of sustainability within strategy.
There is a growing consensus that ‘… there's no alternative to sustainable development’ (Nidumolu et al., 2009, p. 57). This is from a variety of perspectives from concern with the role of human agency in climate change to new imperatives for achieving competitive advantage. Sustainability involves organizational strategic renewal (Hart, 1995 and Shrivastava, 1994) as well as the creation of new calculative practices which drive, for example, the development of carbon trading markets (Callon, 2009 and MacKenzie, 2009) and sustainability accounting and reporting (Adams and Whelan, 2009 and Gray, 2010). Accordingly, there have emerged alternative paradigms to financial profit maximization captured in such phrases as the ‘triple bottom line’ in which economic, social and ecological criteria of performance are expected to be integrated (Bansal, 2005, Elkington, 1997 and Hopwood et al., 2010). Although many organizations have embraced the sustainability rhetoric in their external reporting and their mission statements (Newton and Harte, 1997), these reports may serve as ‘veils’ hiding activities (Deegan, 2002) whose sole purpose is the reconstruction of an eroded legitimacy (Banerjee, 2008 and Gond et al., 2009). This sceptical view is nurtured by a lack of study of the intra-organizational impact of sustainability (Bebbington, 2007 and Milne and Grubnic, 2011), and by the scant attention devoted to the role of management control systems supporting sustainability within organizations (Durden, 2008 and Herzig et al., 2012). The situation is compounded by anxieties concerning the capacity of any strategic move toward sustainability to alter organizational practices (Hopwood, 2009). However, because management control systems (MCSs) shape actors’ practices (Ahrens and Chapman, 2007 and Hopwood, 1976), and support strategy (Kober et al., 2007 and Langfield-Smith, 1997), they can, if used appropriately, push organizations in the direction of sustainability. MCSs are central to strategy-making, as they shape the process of strategy emergence and support the implementation of deliberate strategies (e.g., Henri, 2006, Marginson, 2002, Mundy, 2010, Otley, 1999 and Simons, 2000). Accordingly, lasting attempts to integrate sustainability within strategy, beyond external reporting, discourse and mission statements, should be reflected at some stage within formal control mechanisms (Gond and Herrbach, 2006). Although sustainability has been discussed in the management control literature to describe the emergence of sustainability control systems (hereafter SCSs) such as eco-control, this stream of research is mainly focused on the influence of these systems on environmental and financial performance (Henri and Journault, 2009 and Henri and Journault, 2010). Little is known about the nature and mode of integration between SCSs and more traditional MCSs (Durden, 2008). Yet, SCSs can contribute to an effective integration of sustainability within strategy only when they inform MCSs and are not used as ‘autonomous strategic tools’ (Burgelman, 1991 and Simons, 1995). Short of this, SCSs may remain peripheral and decoupled from core business activities and fail to reshape strategy. As a result, we may observe two parallel worlds of MCSs and SCSs. The aim of this paper is to theorize further the roles and uses of MCSs and SCSs in the integration of sustainability within strategy. We seek to theorize the neglected relationships between MCSs and SCSs, as well as their co-influence in the process of organizational strategy development. Our aim is to clarify how MCSs and SCSs are related, and how together, and in relation with strategy-making, these systems can prevent or facilitate the emergence of sustainability at a strategic level and ultimately the integration of sustainability and strategy. Central to our argument are two concepts: the uses and the integration of MCSs and SCSs. Our concept of uses of MCSs is derived from Simons’ levers of control (LOC) framework ( Simons, 1991, Simons, 1994, Simons, 1995, Simons, 2000 and Simons, 2006). More specifically, we distinguish control systems used by executives as ‘management by exception’ tools (diagnostic) to correct actors’ actions, from those control systems used as ‘actual strategic levers’ (interactive) to focus actors’ attention on key goals and support changes aligned with higher strategic objectives. By integration we refer to the degree of overlap between the two types of control systems under study. We approach integration as a thick ‘socio-technical’ process ( Emery and Trist, 1969) which includes technical and methodological ( Schaltegger and Burritt, 2005) as well as social ( Ahrens and Chapman, 2007 and Brown and Duguid, 1991) and cognitive ( Hoffman and Bazerman, 2007) components. We explore the combinations of modes of integration and diagnostic vs. interactive uses of control systems to delineate a parsimonious number of plausible configurations of SCSs and MCSs within organizations. We approach these configurations as ideal-types, in the Weberian sense of the term, that is “the one-sided accentuation of one or more points of view and by the synthesis of a great many diverse, more or less present and occasionally absent concrete individual phenomena” (Weber, 1904, p. 90). We theorize the relationship between these ideal-types and organizations’ capacity to elaborate a sustainability strategy. In line with prior configuration theory-building (Doty and Glick, 1994, Miller, 1987, Miller, 1996 and Mintzberg, 1983), we specify our framework by explaining which moves between configurations can support a change in strategic orientation toward sustainability. Finally, we discuss how this framework can support further empirical studies on the role of formal control systems in the integration of sustainability within organizational strategy. The paper is organized as follows. Part 2 describes the role and uses of MCSs for strategy-making. Part 3 specifies the problem of management and sustainability control systems integration. Part 4 explores the various configurations of both regular MCSs and SCSs, provides empirical illustrations for each configuration, and explains how they relate to specific approaches to sustainability strategy. Part 5 theorizes how moves across configurations explain the integration of sustainability within organizational strategy. Part 6 discusses the implications of the framework for future research on the role of management accountants and management control for promoting practices on sustainability.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
6.1. Contributions This paper explores the role of control systems in the integration of sustainability within an organization's strategy. Building on the work of Simons on the use of MCSs and elaborating on the concept of systems’ integration, we propose a typology of sustainability integration within strategy through management control. We use this typology to clarify the paths and barriers to sustainability integration, stressing the difficulty of integrating sustainability and regular MCSs due to technical, organizational and cognitive barriers. We also suggest that configurations are more or less stable patterns of components and that they may have differentiated impacts on the triple bottom line. In so doing our framework delivers a twofold contribution. First, we clarify the underlying management control conditions that facilitate or prevent an actual integration of sustainability within strategy. Prior accounts of sustainability integration do not necessarily take into account the underlying infrastructure that allows making sustainability calculable and thus manageable. We identify which elements should be taken into account to evaluate whether an organization has actually the means to deliver a robust sustainability strategy through our configurations typology. We also highlight how and why integration can be prevented or enabled, respectively, by the use and integration of MCSs. This framework could be consolidated in future theoretical works by identifying more contingency factors that affect the organizational capacities to use and integrate MCS. Second, we build on the prior literature on management control by extending the works of Simons to the domain of sustainability and by specifying the importance of integration of the two parallel worlds of MCSs and SCSs in the process of strategic renewal. Specifically, and in line with recent calls (Mundy, 2010), our research suggests considering the interrelations between control systems and not their modes of use alone in order to understand the process whereby they shape strategy-making. Future studies could extend this line of research by evaluating empirically whether and how organizations balance and distribute managerial attention on both kinds of systems across the organization. Given that integration of sustainability within strategy through integrated management control systems is probably a long term objective in an organization's journey toward the search for sustainability, classifying an organization as belonging to “configuration H” should not be interpreted as ideal from a sustainability viewpoint. On the one hand, the integration of sustainability and strategy can have some drawbacks, such as an excessive economic rationalization of the sustainability strategy, or an over-bureaucratization of sustainability management through growing control systems. On the other hand, the cognitive dissonance enhanced by a lack of integration could in some contexts stimulate managerial creativity and maintain actors’ awareness of the challenges inherent to sustainability strategy. Accordingly, even our most favourable configurations for sustainability integration into strategy do not fully account for the persistence of organizational capacities to balance their triple bottom line in the long run. The configurations should be regarded as defining organizational contexts and facilitating or preventing the consideration of sustainability within strategic decision-making. Whether organizations actually exploit the opportunities offered by a supportive strategy to balance adequately their triple bottom line remains an empirical question to be investigated in future studies. 6.2. Operationalization in future research From an empirical viewpoint, our framework calls for several developments. First, the configurations of our typology can be approached as benchmarks to assess actual organizations’ level of integration in future studies. These configurations can be approached as ideal types, and thus the distance of actual organization from these ideal types could be calculated and assessed using specific distance metrics (Doty and Glick, 1994 and Miller, 1996). In such studies, the dimension of integration will have to be operationalized while considering its cognitive, organizational and technical components. Our illustrations indeed suggest that the type of integration at hand may alter the dynamics and stability of the configuration. In addition, our analysis suggests that not all configurations are stable. This insight is in line with empirical results from prior organizational configurations studies which demonstrated that a relatively low number of configurations are actually stable (Miller, 1996 and Mintzberg, 1979). Future longitudinal studies could evaluate which configurations of control systems and sustainability strategy among the ones we have identified are the most likely to persist over time. Second, earlier works on configurations from corporate strategy suggest that “configuration, not strategy alone, is the most powerful source of competitive advantage” (Miller and Whitney, 1999, p. 5; see also, Miller, 1986 and Miller, 1996). Accordingly we have hypothesized that our configurations may shape the triple bottom line performance of organizations. Differences in social, environmental and economic performance among organizations exhibiting configurations from one type or another could be assessed in quantitative-type contingency research studies (e.g., Otley, 1980). Quali-quantitative methodologies such as the Boolean analysis or the Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) developed by Charles Ragin have been shown to be powerful in evaluating the predictive power of configurations on specific organizational or institutional outcomes (Fiss, 2007 and Fiss, 2010). They could be used to operationalize our typology and evaluate the impact of specific MCSs and SCSs configurations on organizations’ sustainable performance. Future studies could rely on this method either to consolidate our knowledge by comparing the results from prior case studies of sustainability implementation through a variety of control systems, or to investigate the influence of configurations on sustainable performance across a variety of organizations. Third, our analysis of the paths to sustainability calls for qualitative empirical studies that evaluate systematically the processes whereby organizations switch from one configuration to another. Although our illustrations suggest that organizational journeys toward sustainability can be interpreted as a succession of moves from one configuration to another, they also show that numerous factors which we considered exogenous (e.g., a recent merger and acquisition, a sudden change of CEO) shape these moves. Future studies could integrate in the analysis these organizational, leadership and environmental factors by evaluating whether some paths to sustainability are more likely to occur than others, and isolating effects that relate to configurations’ path-dependency from other contingency factors that may explain the move toward sustainability. Considering those factors in the analysis could account for the relative indeterminacy of organizational trajectories toward sustainability. Since the paths highlighted by our framework may occur over a longer period of time, longitudinal or process research design as well as historical analysis could be suitable methods to investigate these organizational transformations. 6.3. Managerial implications Finally, our framework has strong managerial implications. First, combining the use and integration of MCSs allows the specification of boundary conditions for sustainability integration. In uncovering the importance of various forms of system integration, our analysis reveals that the strategic mobilization of a sustainability control system by top managers may not be enough to deploy a sustainability strategy. The regular control system may remain a more structuring force of actors’ behaviour, and sustainability systems can remain peripheral or in parallel. In theorizing the importance of systems use, our framework stresses that integrating sustainability into the control system is a sufficient condition to enhance sustainability strategy. Sustainability may be integrated into an MCS such that it remains dormant and does not inform the strategy. A more effective approach for managers willing to enhance the level of sustainable organizational development is to integrate and interactively control for sustainability within the dominating MCS. Second, the typology of configurations can be used as a repertoire for building an organizational diagnostic of the degree of sustainability integration within the organization. Specifically, our approach suggests considering the variety of control systems, their use as well as levels of technical, organizational, and cognitive integration in the analysis of an organization's capacity to deploy a sustainability strategy. Our analysis also invites consideration into whether the various forms of integration compensate or reinforce each other to explain the maintenance of barriers to sustainability integration within a strategy. Practitioner-focused researchers could develop tools or protocols aimed at overcoming these various kinds of barriers to facilitate sustainability integration within organizations. Third, although our simplified analysis did not consider all the possible organizational contingencies that explain sustainable strategy-building, it suggests that some paths from one configuration to another may be easier than others to follow in order to elaborate a sustainability strategy. These path dependencies could be taken into account when formulating managerial recommendations for future sustainability strategy in a consultancy or strategic decision making context.