Managing systemic uncertainty: the role of industry-level management controls and hybrids

Paul J. Thambar, David A. Brown, Prabhu Sivabalan

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We study how multiple firms voluntarily design inter-firm mechanisms to manage industry-level systemic uncertainty. Facing a threat of systemic uncertainty that cannot be addressed by any one firm, we explain how the Australian cotton industry mobilised hybrids and boundary spanners to develop an industry-level solution at the inter-firm level. We apply resource dependence theory to extend Miller, Kurunmäki and O'Leary (2008), and identify a broader range of hybrid characteristics (novel, inter-firm, public/private and open source) than currently acknowledged in accounting studies. We use these characteristics to explain how hybrid organisational forms and hybrid control processes operate at the inter-firm level to develop and share a solution to systemic uncertainty, which are subsequently applied at the firm-level. Our findings also show how boundary spanners can operate with less tension in larger industry-level collaborations, explained using our resource dependence conceptualisation. This responds to Dekker's (2016) calls for more inter-firm research clarifying how controls operate beyond the firm.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101049
Number of pages20
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • Boundary spanners
  • Hybrids
  • Industry-level management controls
  • Systemic uncertainty

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