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From management controls to the management of controls

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to describe the dynamic development of technical controls in different companies and to interpret the observations using Van de Ven and Poole's typology of change process theories. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Case study data were obtained through semi-structured interviews, observation and document analysis in three organisations (Company A, Company B and Company C). Findings ‐ The paper highlights the life-cycle development of technical controls, where controls are implemented, improved and eventually removed. It highlights the fact that the progression through the life-cycle can follow either a dialectical motor of change based on conflict or a teleological motor of change based on consensus. Research limitations/implications ‐ The findings of the paper enhance the theory of rules developed by March et al., by providing insight into how change actually occurs, i.e. how inertia is broken. Practical implications ‐ The paper offers practitioners some guidelines for the management of their control systems to help them maintain more effective and efficient control systems. Originality/value ‐ The paper explains that under a teleological motor of change, inertia is broken more easily than under a dialectical one, because there is less tolerance for control obsolescence, hence improvement and removal of obsolete controls are more likely to occur. This is important for listed organisations having to implement more and more technical controls to comply with laws such as SOX. The paper also suggests that the life-cycle is not a "motor" of change as suggested by Van de Ven and Poole, because it cannot explain how inertia is broken.
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Keywords: Case studies; Change management; Life-cycle approach; Management control; Motors of change; Process of change; Rules; Technical controls

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-06-15

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