Tracing Causes of Low Efficacy of Management Control Systems

Kristian Mols Rasmussen & Olmo Jiri Tilman Clemens Rauba

Student thesis: Master thesis


Purpose: This paper examines the causal mechanisms behind the perceived low efficacy of management control systems at the Danish e-commerce company Design/methodology/approach: In a single case study, qualitative empirical data is collected through semi-structured interviews and analysed through the method of Process Tracing inspired by Beach & Pedersen (2018) to uncover the mechanisms linking causes to an outcome of low efficacy of management control systems. Findings: We attribute the low efficacy to two mechanisms. The first is internal to the organisation. A poorly operationalised strategy is translated through an ad hoc culture with little performance measurement and several proximity issues concerning data and skills that foster daily operations characterised by negotiations rather than data driven execution. This is strengthened by the absence of a CFO as an enabling force for strategic operationalisation of data and planning. Secondly, we found responsibility and control issues in the broader supply-chain of the organisation, coupled with a poor understanding and coordination between warehousing and logistics on one side and procurement and sales on the other. This impedes productivity and fosters disagreements regarding accounting data in the supply-chain. Originality/value: Our findings have several implications for the management at in the future. We briefly discuss potential solutions to above-mentioned issues. Also, our methodological and theoretical approach presents a pragmatic, heuristic and novel way to analyse organisational issues, applicable for a broad range of studies. Furthermore, organisations in similar contexts may refer to our findings for a better understanding of their situation. Finally, our findings contribute to a growing scholarly understanding of management control systems in organisations by providing an intriguing empirical account evaluated through multiple theoretical lenses

EducationsMSc in Accounting, Strategy and Control, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages113
SupervisorsMorten Holm