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Institutionalization and practice variation in the management control of a global/local setting

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Purpose ‐ The paper aims to look at a joint venture (JV) set up by a Portuguese company and a global corporation (GC) in the hospitality sector. The paper seeks to examine how, and why the JV's managers introduced variations in the management control (MC) rules and procedures in institutionalizing the global MC system imposed by the GC. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper relies on qualitative data collected through a case study of the JV over a period of two years. Insights from recent neo-institutional work in accounting, complemented by the notion of multiple logics and the Orton and Weick perspective on loose coupling, are drawn on to interpret the case findings. The MC literature in GCs is also reviewed to explore whether and how practice variation can occur in these complex institutional settings. Findings ‐ Although institutional and technical criteria were not in dialectical tension, the global MC system was adapted by the JV's managers. They developed loosely coupled MC rules and procedures to satisfy the multiple logics informing it. Research limitations/implications ‐ More qualitative studies on the adoption of externally imposed practices in other global/local settings are needed to refine the understanding of this phenomenon. Originality/value ‐ The present study extends the scope of neoinstitutional analysis in accounting by showing and explaining how and why individual organizations, which are dependent on dominant others, can introduce variations in imposed systems and practices. In so doing, the paper also contributes to a fuller understanding of MC practices in GCs.
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Keywords: Control; Hospitality management; Joint ventures; Management accounting; Portugal

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 2, 2009

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