The Multiplicity of Controls and the Making of Innovation

Silvana Revellino, Jan Mouritsen

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


This paper contributes to our understanding of relations between control and innovation by adding a process perspective where innovation and the use of management controls co-develop. As innovation grows, it has to pass various trials each of which links the innovation to obstacles which are mediated by unique sets of technologies of control. In this process the innovation changes and adapts. This thesis is drawn from the case of Italian Autostrade's innovation Telepass which was an automatic toll collection devise developed to make traffic fast, safe and fluid. Throughout its development it had to pass trials of technology, the network of cooperating firms, the user, the organisation, and in this process it not only developed itself, it also transformed Autostrade and required additional innovations. The set of controls included elements of budgetary planning, strategic vision, user satisfaction, productivity and highly pointed achievement targets. This multiplicity of controls changed and adapted to the innovation as the innovation unfolds. The controls were part of the innovation more likely than an external device to make it transparent. They engaged the individual trials and changed from trial to trial. This message adds to the literature which suggests that control should be structured in relation to the characteristics of the innovation. Rather than responding primarily to the strategic context and the uncertainties around the innovation, controls are involved more in trials around specific challenges to the development of innovation.
TidsskriftEuropean Accounting Review
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)341-369
Antal sider29
StatusUdgivet - 2009