A review and discussion of management control in inter-firm relationships: Achievements and future directions
Several years have passed since Hopwood (Hopwood, A. G. (1996). Looking across rather than up and down: on the need to explore the lateral processing of information. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 21, 589-590) proclaimed the need to explore the lateral processing of information, transcending legal organizational boundaries. Since then, many contributions in the management accounting literature have been published in an effort to overcoming this shortage. The aim of this work is to investigate whether these contributions have brought the possibilities of that powerful intuition to its full potential development. To this end, the paper provides a review of the theoretical and empirical literature on management control in inter-firm contexts by organizing contributions according to the breadth of the control solutions they investigated, i.e., control archetypes, management control mechanisms, and cost and accounting controls. Our objective is not only to present the state of the art in this field, but also to evaluate critically the corresponding achievements and to assist in developing new research questions. To address the limitations of the extant literature, we propose the prominence of control problems (cooperation, coordination, appropriation concerns) as a way to integrate the different streams of research, and we highlight some important variables (structure of interests, component and cognitional complexity of tasks) that have been neglected so far by management accounting contributors but, as has been suggested in the organizational literature, may influence control choices. We also identify several areas ripe for future research.
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