Management Control Systems for Sustainability, and Sustainability of Management Control Systems

Castellano Nicola, Felden Carsten

Starting from the late 1990s, academics have explicitly considered sustainability as a research topic in management control literature (Otley et al., 1995), even if scholars’ interest has grown remarkably in the last five years (see among others Marchi, 2019; 2020).

Interestingly, in management control studies, researchers approach sustainability under two different, but strictly interconnected, perspectives, which may both represent complementary avenues for research: 1) management control systems for sustainability whose studies generally investigate how and to what extent management control systems can support companies in the achievement of sustainability strategies; and 2) sustainability of management control systems that aims to deepen the analysis on the technical enhancement in management control systems, which are needed following to the adoption of sustainability as well as other forms of social strategies.

In both the research streams, the motivations underlying the introduction of a sustainability strategy are worth considering. This is so because sustainability metrics’ misalignment with the company strategy (Castellano, 2011), as well as the lack of integration of sustainability control tools into MCS, is more frequent when the company approaches a sustainability strategy mainly for legitimacy purposes (Cinquini et al. 2015; Fiorentino et al. 2016).

Keywords: Management Control Systems, Sustainability, Sustainability Strategies, Strategic Management, Control Effectiveness.

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