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Designing Management Control Systems to Foster Knowledge Transfer in Knowledge-Intensive Firms: A Network-Based Approach


  • Angelo Ditillo


Research on management control has emphasised the relevance of controls for knowledge integration on a project-by-project basis. This work contributes to this field by proposing a framework to explain how management control systems foster knowledge transfer between organisational units in knowledge-intensive firms. By combining network theory and knowledge network research, this study suggests that the design of management control systems should consider various forms of relationships between individuals (strong/weak, direct/indirect) that these systems activate and that are necessary to transfer various forms of knowledge (process, outcome, technology or opportunities) characterised by different levels of causal ambiguity and relatedness. An in-depth empirical analysis of a software firm and three of its projects shows that management controls may act as important mechanisms of knowledge circulation and that some principles reinforce this function. In particular, to achieve organisational knowledge transfer, enforceability of manuals and procedures, scalability of reviews and decisions, mobility induction of individuals, and multiplicity of roles and accountabilities are indicated as desirable design properties of control systems in knowledge-intensive firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Angelo Ditillo, 2012. "Designing Management Control Systems to Foster Knowledge Transfer in Knowledge-Intensive Firms: A Network-Based Approach," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(3), pages 425-450, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:21:y:2012:i:3:p:425-450 DOI: 10.1080/09638180.2012.661939

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Maurizio Massaro & Filippo Zanin & Roland Bardy, 2014. "Levers of control and knowledge sharing in alliances among Large Firms and Small Firms in the pharmaceutical industry," MANAGEMENT CONTROL, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2014(2), pages 121-142.

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