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Innovative management control systems in knowledge work: a middle manager perspective


  • Carlos Martin-Rios

    () (University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland)


Abstract Integrating theorizing in sensemaking and conceptual or contextualized metaphor theory, this study investigates how middle managers in knowledge work settings support or contest the implementation of changes in management control systems (MCS) by examining how they make sense of the new control roles allocated to them. It draws on case study evidence from an organizational unit of a US multinational technology company. Results from qualitative analysis show that managers employed contextualized metaphors as collective symbols to make sense of and deal with differing views of changes in MCS and the impact on their roles, responsibilities and identity at work. Specifically, the results indicate that individuals’ acceptance of innovative control practices varied and that by remaining unaware of managers’ dilemmas, the organization ran the risk of failing to properly implement the changes, even though the system had been deemed appropriate for knowledge work. Because of their fundamental role in the success of implementing MCS-related changes in knowledge work settings, realizing how middle manager develop an understanding and react to changes in MCS is a critical endeavor for both researchers and practitioners alike.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlos Martin-Rios, 2016. "Innovative management control systems in knowledge work: a middle manager perspective," Journal of Management Control: Zeitschrift für Planung und Unternehmenssteuerung, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 181-204, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jmgtco:v:27:y:2016:i:2:d:10.1007_s00187-015-0228-8
    DOI: 10.1007/s00187-015-0228-8

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Niclas Erhardt & Carlos Martin-Rios, 2016. "Knowledge Management Systems in Sports: The Role of Organisational Structure, Tacit and Explicit Knowledge," Journal of Information & Knowledge Management (JIKM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 15(02), pages 1-21, June.

    More about this item


    Middle management; Management control system; Innovation; Sensemaking; Conceptual metaphors; Knowledge work;

    JEL classification:

    • M49 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Other
    • M50 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - General
    • M19 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Other


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