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Management Control without Budgets: A Field Study of 'Beyond Budgeting' in Practice


  • Katarina Østergren
  • Inger Stensaker


Budgets have long been the dominant instrument for management control. In recent years however, alternative approaches to management control such as the Balanced Scorecard have been launched. It has even been suggested that organizations should drop the budget and move 'Beyond Budgeting' (Hope and Fraser, Strategic Finance, 82(4), pp. 30-35, 2000). New approaches to management control attempt to respond to the shortcomings of budgets, such as being time consuming and focused on cost reduction rather than value creation. While the Balanced Scorecard and Beyond Budgeting appear to be more closely connected to firm strategy, we know little about how such alternative management control systems function in practice and potential challenges of these new systems. This study is a first step in that direction. We examine 'Beyond Budgeting' in practice by focusing on how corporate level in a large multidivisional oil and energy company adopted this new approach to management control and how it was implemented in two business units. Specifically we investigate: (a) the rules of action that are developed in the absence of budgets; and (b) how the new management control system is expected to influence interaction patterns. Drawing on agency and resource dependency theory in our analysis, our findings indicate that the means of control that are exercised in the absence of budgets alter the relationship between corporate management and division management and new lines of dependency are created between divisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Katarina Østergren & Inger Stensaker, 2011. "Management Control without Budgets: A Field Study of 'Beyond Budgeting' in Practice," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(1), pages 149-181.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:20:y:2011:i:1:p:149-181
    DOI: 10.1080/09638180903487842

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    Cited by:

    1. Jana Fibírová, 2013. "The Concept of Budgeting in the non stable market environment," Český finanční a účetní časopis, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2013(3), pages 99-109.
    2. repec:sgm:resrep:v:2:i:21:y:2016:p:42-59 is not listed on IDEAS

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