سرمایه اجتماعی و سیستم های کنترل مدیریت : مطالعه یک سازمان غیر دولتی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|4214||2010||20 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Accounting, Organizations and Society, Volume 35, Issue 8, November 2010, Pages 737–756
In this paper we use the concept of social capital to outline a distinctive approach to understanding the interplay between management control systems and the development of social connections in and between organisations. Social capital provides a comprehensive framework for examining the nature of social connections through its focus on both structural networks (bridging) and interpersonal relationships that predispose individuals towards mutually beneficial collective action (bonding). In doing so, social capital provides a means of considering how individuals react to management control systems in terms of the social ties that exist both within the organization and external to the organization. Using a case study of a non-government organization, we show how social capital is implicated in efforts to attract economic capital and cultural capital. We demonstrate how elements of a management control system can either enhance or inhibit the bonding and bridging dimensions of social capital with potential consequences on both economic and cultural capital. We highlight the mixed and sometimes contradictory effects of management control systems on social capital, and provide a powerful illustration of the role of management control systems in brokering alliances and bridging structural holes.
Non-government organizations (NGOs) have a central role in delivering welfare services. NGOs rely on developing social connections to draw together those in need with service providers and suppliers of welfare funding. This raises issues of how social connectedness can help organizations, such as NGOs, to deliver their services, and consequently, has encouraged researchers to examine social infrastructures that facilitate individual and collective action of many kinds (Coleman, 1990 and Foley and Edwards, 1999). Across a broad range of disciplines, the study of social connectedness has been facilitated by examining the phenomenon of social capital. Adler and Kwon (2002, p. 17) note “A growing number of sociologists, political scientists, and economists have invoked the concept of social capital in the search for answers to a broadening range of questions being confronted in their own fields.” On this basis, we explore how social capital may contribute to knowledge in the area of management control systems (MCS) and how it may affect the management of NGOs. In this study our particular interest is in NGOs that provide welfare services to the community within the institutional space termed ‘civil society’.1 Providing welfare involves NGOs developing an identity to deliver humanitarian services and to attract economic capital to fund operations. At times these two functions can be in tension. Social capital has a potential role in delivering services and attracting resources, and in managing the tension between the two. Also, MCS are used both to assist in attracting economic capital and in delivering welfare services. Our study is concerned with understanding the interrelationship between MCS and social capital. Specifically, we examine how the combination of MCS and social capital can be either more, or less, effective in helping NGOs maintain their identity and capabilities to deliver services, while gaining funding. We draw on the work of Bourdieu (1986) and Oakes, Townley, and Cooper (1998) in elaborating on the inherent tension facing NGOs as they struggle to balance the desire to maintain their core values and work processes based on humanitarian ideals (their cultural capital) with the need to attract sufficient economic capital. To help understand how social capital is used by NGOs to deliver effective welfare services, we also draw on a stream of social capital research that focuses on the mechanisms that can strengthen the integration of agents to best effect co-ordinated actions, and examines how social capital can create consensus and sustain the stable development of society (Coleman, 1990 and Putnam, 1993), as well as provide advantages for organizations (Hargadon and Sutton, 1997 and Krackhardt and Hanson, 1993) and individuals (Burt, 1992 and Gabbay and Zuckerman, 1998). From this literature we use the concept of structural bridging to analyse networks of social ties, and relational bonding to examine how individuals are predisposed towards mutually beneficial collective action. Identifying these distinct dimensions helps isolate different advantages (and disadvantages) that can be derived from social capital (Gittell & Vidal, 1998), particularly related to information, power and solidarity (Adler & Kwon, 2002). In overview, examining how organizations seek to develop economic and cultural capital allows us to identify what is at stake as NGOs respond to pressure to be more efficient and effective. Although attempts to attract economic capital may destroy cultural capital (Oakes et al., 1998), some research suggests that bonding and bridging can play a role in attracting economic capital while preserving cultural capital, although this is by no means assured (Adler & Kwon, 2002). We argue that MCS have potential effects on bonding and bridging, both positive and negative. Consequently, important insights into the generation of economic and cultural capital can be gained by considering how MCS are implicated in the processes of bonding and bridging social capital. From a MCS perspective, considering social capital helps to understand how combinations of controls can have complementary or conflicting effects which may influence organizational outcomes. Typically, formal controls are an important facet of MCS and help to maintain financial viability and develop efficient and effective work processes.2 The MCS literature has also shown that employing more flexible, organic controls can help maintain employee commitment and a sense of innovation, and that MCS may be most effective when formal and organic controls operate in combination (Davila, Foster, & Oyon, 2009). By focusing on social capital, specifically the social ties involved in bonding and bridging, we are able to enrich understanding of the processes whereby formal and organic controls, and their combination, have their effects. Thus, social capital is important as it allows us to consider how different aspects of MCS can have effects on how individuals react, not only within the organization but also external to the organization. To summarize, our study is one of the first to analyse the use of MCS in NGOs and thus responds to the call for research into issues of management and management control in these types of organizations (Ebrahim, 2003, Hopwood, 2005 and Lewis, 2003). Specifically, we explore how the connection between MCS and social capital can potentially enhance or damage an NGO’s ability to manage the tension between attracting sufficient economic capital while sustaining cultural capital. Within this context, the study contributes to understanding the role of MCS in several ways. 1. The study identifies how formal MCS have mixed effects on social capital. Formal controls adopted to attract and maintain economic capital can damage internal bonding with potential negative effects on service delivery, but enhance an NGO’s prospects to develop bridging social capital to attract economic capital while preserving cultural capital. 2. Our study highlights the potential contradictory effects on social capital from the use of belief systems to develop and reinforce values. We show how active use of belief systems helps to manage and maintain employees’ identification with core values and thus develop strong bonding within organizations; yet such strong bonding leads to an inward focus and inhibits openness to developing bridging with other organizations. 3. We provide a powerful illustration of the role of MCS in brokering alliances and bridging structural holes. We elaborate on how an NGO can promote the preservation of its cultural capital when developing alliances by bridging structural holes, and show how formal MCS support this process by demonstrating and legitimizing the capabilities of the NGO to others in the alliance. 4. We draw attention to difficulties in introducing formal controls where more informal, organic processes are the customary form of control. We suggest that the ‘interactive use’ of formal controls can be compatible with customary organic processes if they have enabling characteristics. In this way formal controls may assist in developing internal bonding social capital. The remainder of the paper is structured in three sections. The first section presents a review of relevant literature. The second section outlines our field study including discussion of our method and presentation and discussion of the results. In the third and final section we present conclusions and limitations of the study.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In this paper we used the concept of social capital to advance understanding of the interplay between MCS and the development of social connections both within and between organisations. By considering the notions of economic and cultural capital, and bonding and bridging we have shown how social capital can enrich the study of how MCS can assist, or hinder, NGO’s attempts to develop efficient and effective operations, within the context of the need to develop and manage economic resources while preserving their cultural capital. Using social capital we can acknowledge the central role of developing social ties both within and between organizations. By focusing on social capital, specifically the social ties involved in bonding and bridging, we can better understand how individuals react to MCS, and the implications for the connection between MCS and both economic and cultural capital. Our case study of an NGO demonstrated how elements of a MCS can enhance and inhibit the bonding and bridging dimensions of social capital and how this is implicated in attempts to develop and manage economic resources while preserving cultural capital. This study has examined the dynamics of the interplay between MCS and social capital, and, in particular, revealed how different combinations of controls are related to different forms of social capital. We show that MCS can help to develop social capital; however, when different control system elements come into conflict, this can damage attempts to develop social capital. Our study shows how aspects of MCS (both organic controls and formal program management systems) can be used to enhance bridging and bonding social capital and help to preserve the cultural capital of an NGO. However, in our study, attempts to introduce formal controls, such as budgets, were not successful as they were predicated on acquiring and managing economic capital. We noted that these systems were introduced in coercive ways where they did not enable employees to identify with the new competitive funding context. In this situation, we observed instances where MCS inhibited bonding social capital which had the potential to diminish Tennant’s cultural capital. It was apparent that damage to cultural capital was contained, to a certain extent, because of the depth of existing cultural capital derived from years of the employees’ commitment to Tennant’s core humanitarian values. However, the strength of bonding and the strong cultural capital inhibited efforts to develop an awareness and sensitivity to economic matters, which arguably are necessary for NGOs’ survival. Our study contributes to understanding the important and complex role of belief systems in the context of generating and sustaining bonding social capital within NGOs. We highlighted how belief systems can be used beyond merely communicating values to employees and outsiders, and form part of the process of managing and maintaining employees’ and outsiders’ identification with core organizational values. We show how belief systems can concurrently help to develop bonding around core values of the organization; yet such strong bonding leads to an inward focus and inhibited openness to developing bridging with other agencies. Our study also helps to develop understanding of the potential difficulties in employing financially-based MCS within NGOs. We saw widespread evidence, at the operational level, of resistance to using more formal financial controls as they were viewed as a threat to effective service delivery. Conversely, formal program management systems were well-received when employed to plan and monitor operations. These controls appeared to map well onto the everyday work of employees and clarified objectives and monitored client treatments. In NGOs this is particularly salient as the proximity of controls to activities can have critical consequences for client welfare. These formal program management systems were complemented with highly effective organic decision processes which were employed within loose structures and open communication networks. We see this approach of combining formal program management systems with informal controls working in tandem to facilitate internal bonding. Attempts to use financial controls interactively were not successful as the financial logic implicit in such controls was perceived to be in opposition to core welfare ideals. While interactive use of financial controls had the potential to achieve productive debate on how welfare and economic values may be combined and reconciled, such debate was not forthcoming as the financial controls did not have enabling features. Given the inevitability of the application of financial controls in NGOs we suggest that their use would appear to require, as a precursor, a change in attitudes and values concerning financial responsibility and efficiency. It seems that financial responsibility could be encouraged by developing an efficiency focus before employing financial controls, and then using interactive controls to develop concern with financial matters. While this may seem to be common sense, it does highlight a potentially critical, but overlooked, role for belief systems in shaping values and attitudes towards other MCS elements, which focus on values that may be perceived by employees as conflicting. As a first step to developing a concern with financial matters, the formation and application of belief systems could emphasize the importance of generating both cultural capital (promoting core welfare values) and economic capital (with connotations of efficiency). Given acceptance of the need for financial management, MCS could be designed in ways to ensure that they are enabling and then be used in an interactive way to provide the forum for their on-going application. Our study provides some evidence related to the use of MCS by NGOs to enhance bridging. First, both belief systems and formal financial data had a role in legitimizing Tennant among alliance partners, funding agencies and government. This was part of Tennant’s struggle to maintain its identity and its cultural capital so as to attract the type of programs and funding that suited its welfare agenda. We show how Tennant successfully employed controls to help develop bridging and broker arrangements between agencies. This was most effective when Tennant acted as a broker connecting agencies within structural holes (Burt, 2005). This investigation is subject to several limitations. First, our focus is on the functioning and outcomes of a specific NGO, rather than on whether this NGO is more effective than others that operate in the sector. It is possible that the observed outcomes could have been delivered more effectively or efficiently by other NGOs. Within the scope of our study, we are not able to assess this. Second, while evidence was drawn from interviews, internal documents, public material and some external opinions, in the paper there was greater reliance on interview data. While we viewed a wide array of archival documents, we were not able to reference these directly due to confidentiality. Every attempt was made to gain information from a wide selection of individuals across the organization and to corroborate interview data with observation of archival data. While we made efforts to corroborate our field data, we did not observe everyday operations in an intensive manner. Consequently much of the data is based on a rather limited number of interviews as opposed to in-depth observational data. Third, while we were engaged with the organization for a period of 12 months and observed business over this time, some interviews were conducted during times that involved the introduction of changes that had a strong impact on the individuals. Their opinions may change over time. Civil society is undergoing considerable change as the success of NGOs become increasingly dependent on their ability to develop strong reputations to gain government contracts and to receive funding from philanthropic organizations and other donors. In the increasingly competitive environment, NGOs are being forced to demonstrate abilities to deliver services effectively and efficiently, with the potential for an increased focus on efficiency concerns to jeopardize the sustainability of their cultural capital. Consequently, it is necessary for NGOs to manage the potential conflict between generating social capital to sustain their cultural capital and employ practices consistent with the economics of welfare. The application of MCS has much to offer NGOs as they respond to these tensions and changes in the structure of civil society.