Paradoxical tensions of the COVID-19 pandemic: a paradox theory perspective on the role of management control systems in helping organizations survive crises

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper presents paradox theory as a useful theoretical lens for researchers exploring crises such as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The authors argue that paradox theory, which emphasizes a “both/and” as opposed to an “either/or” approach, is ideally suited for management control systems (MCS) research on crises. Design/methodology/approach: The authors adopt a revelatory case approach to provide empirical examples of the insights that paradox theory can provide. Findings: This paper highlights how MCS can be used to simultaneously manage short-term/operational and long-term/strategic objectives to navigate a crisis. Furthermore, it highlights how MCS can be mobilized during crises to identify and embrace opportunities. Practical implications: This paper illustrates the importance of MCS focusing on not just the short-term, but also the long-term, and managing multiple objectives in assisting organizations to survive crisis. Originality/value: This paper highlights the benefits of using paradox theory to understand the role of MCS in helping organizations manage crises and to use a crisis as a source of opportunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-119
Number of pages12
JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Conflicting objectives
  • COVID-19
  • Crisis
  • Crisis as opportunity
  • Paradox theory
  • Management control systems
  • MCS

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