Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Management Control and "Coherence" : Some Unresolved Questions

Contents:

Author Info

Abstract

Clothed in various formulations, the question of “coherence” is central to management control. Thus it is widely accepted that different forms of control “cannot be used effectively in every situation” (Merchant, 1998: 32, 69) – a statement referring to the contingency framework. It is also argued that “congruence [is] one of the prime determinants of the effectiveness of management” (Merchant, 1998: 159-160), congruence here being defined both in terms of the managers’ adequate understanding of organisational objectives, and in terms of appropriate mirroring of the objectives by the measured performance dimension. Finally, there is general agreement on the idea that the dominant form of control (i.e. action-, result- or personnel-orientated) is “likely to change (…) as (…) needs and capabilities change” (Merchant, 1998: 259), this involving again the idea of an effective fit between modes of control and the organizational situation. These different statements refer to various aspects of “coherence” in organizations, and the issues mentioned are not specific to management control: coherence issues also concern strategy, marketing, information systems and human resource management. The objective of this article is to reveal the diversity of content that the concept of "coherence" possesses. This “inventory” reveals that, whilst most management control claims on coherence refer to various forms of what call be termed “strategic coherence”, there are many other meanings of the concept, which can be gathered around the notion of “psychological coherence”. This review enables us to reconsider coherence-related questions, which, we suggest, are incompletely answered within the usual frameworks of coherence deployed. In Part One we examine the different terms which are used to designate the concept of coherence. We show that in the French and English languages we cannot strictly “align” the meanings of the different words which are used in association with the concept. This semantic inventory also shows that "coherence" can be understood either in reference to the idea of a totality, or not. Part Two considers the variety of theories of “coherence” which, either in the management sciences or in associated fields (such as organization theory, industrial and occupational psychology, etc.) provide the conceptual supports for management discourse, including those in the management control domain. This section reveals both the diversity and sometimes the incompatibility of these theories. In Part Three we re-examine different coherence-related questions. We show that in some cases, the usual perspectives on coherence lead to a reductionist view of management as a human activity, which can be detrimental both to organisations and their participants. We also disclose some missing points in common claims on coherence and finally suggest that, beyond a rationalistic façade, appeals to coherence might have rhetorical aspects participating in legitimisation processes. The Conclusion proposes news ideas and directions of research on “coherence”.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.essec.fr/faculty/showDeclFileRes.do?declId=682&key=__workpaper__
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School in its series ESSEC Working Papers with number DR 03018.

as in new window
Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: May 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ebg:essewp:dr-03018

Contact details of provider:
Postal: ESSEC Research Center, BP 105, 95021 Cergy, France
Email:
Web page: http://www.essec.edu/
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords: Coherence; Management control; Organisational change Coherence; Management control; Organisational change Coherence; Management control; Organisational change;

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Annick Bourguignon & Alan Jenkins, 2004. "Changer d’outils de contrôle de gestion?De la cohérence instrumentale a la cohérence psychologique," Revue Finance Contrôle Stratégie, revues.org, vol. 7(3), pages 31-61, September.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ebg:essewp:dr-03018. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sophie Magnanou).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.