Designing Management Control Systems: Systemic vs Sectoral Approach

  •  Paolo Popoli    


Management control systems are increasingly called upon to find an appropriate balance between efficiency and flexibility, between short- and long-term orientation, between formal and informal tools and techniques. However, management control has been studied and treated, in the prevailing literature, by adopting a “sectoral” approach. In this respect, economic-financial control, organizational control, and strategic control are deeply analyzed and clearly qualified in their respective aims, methodology and tools, but at the same time are the results of a specialized and fragmented perspective. Starting from these premises, this paper aims to provide a conceptual framework for designing a management control system from a “systemic perspective”, in order to capture all economic, financial, strategic and operational dimensions of business within a unitary management control system. Methodologically, this paper is conceptual in nature, based on a qualitative analysis of the prevailing literature, aimed at providing advanced insights on this field and bases for further theoretical and empirical studies. In particular, after discussing the most significant stages in the evolution of management control systems over the last decades, this paper highlights the importance and advantages of adopting a systemic approach that facilitates a unitary management control system wherein the numerous and different dimensions of management are considered interdependent, in order to achieve an integrated equilibrium between efficiency and effectiveness, between short- and long-term performances, and to unify strategic and operational management.

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