On the Controllability Principles and the Construction of Uncontrollability: The Case of On-time Delivery Performance

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A key challenge when it comes to coping with the controllability principle is to understand why and how uncontrollability occurs. In this paper we draw on the Actor-Network Theory to provide more insight to why and how uncontrollability emerges in organizations. By means of an in-depth case study of delivery time overruns in a manufacturing firm that develop, manufacture and sells customized generators we explore the actors at play in the construction of uncontrollability related to this strategic performance indicator. The study illustrates how uncontrollability can be portrayed as an effect of a wide range of heterogeneous actors that connects in multiple ways and that in combination forms a complex network of relations which affect delivery time performance. Our study adds to research on the controllability principle. Whereas prior research has characterized uncontrollability as determined by a set of generalized factors like e.g. horizontal and hierarchical interdependencies and external factors that produce uncontrollability, we contribute by illustrating how other (f)actors are involved in shaping uncontrollability and add to our insights to what the interdependencies creating uncontrollability more specifically is about. Thus, our study adds to as well as elaborates on prior research. We illustrate how uncontrollability arise in the intersects of several heterogeneous elements such as the product information systems, quality management, incentive systems, outsourcing and customers. We also illustrate that uncontrollability is an effect of organizational design choices because the actors producing uncontrollability in principle could be pacified but that these pacification initiatives again can be hard to realize or are chosen not to be realized. This tells us more about how uncontrollability is tied up in heterogeneous and conflicting organizational and strategic choices.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2013
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventThe 7th Conference on Performance Measurement and Management Control. PMMC 2013 - Hotel Majestic, Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 18 Sept 201320 Sept 2013
Conference number: 7


ConferenceThe 7th Conference on Performance Measurement and Management Control. PMMC 2013
LocationHotel Majestic
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