The roles of management control in a product development setting
Akroyd, C and Maguire, W, The roles of management control in a product development setting, Qualitative Research in Accounting and Management, 8, (3) pp. 212-237. ISSN 1176-6093 (2011) [Refereed Article]
Purpose – This paper examines the ways in which management control is enacted in a product development setting to provide new insights into the different roles that control can play in this context.
Design/methodology approach – We carry out a nine-month in-depth field study at a subsidiary of an Australasian multinational firm which operates in the consumer foods industry. We use a participant observation approach to collect field notes and documents from the organisation which we analyse through the lens of ethnomethodology.
Findings – Our results indicate that the role of management control during product development is mainly focused on reducing uncertainty at the stages and promoting goal congruence at the decision gates. We argue that this helps explain why management control has a positive effect in a product development setting.
Research limitations/implications – The implication of this finding is that the role of management control changes during product development due to the involvement of different organisation members (communities of practice) and the activities that they carry out. This helps us build a more holistic understanding of control in product development. As this is a field study of a specific company our findings are not generalisable to other companies or settings. Future research also needs to investigate other possible roles which management control may play in this context.
Originality/value – We extend the research in this area by showing how and why management control can take on multiple roles in practice.