The interplay between ideological control and formal management control systems – A case study of a non-governmental organisation

Kalle Kraus, Cecilia Kennergren, Amelie von Unge

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31 Citations (Scopus)


In this study we explore organisational ideology as an important dimension of management control systems (MCS). Through a case study of a health centre operating as an NGO we found that the ability of ‘ideological talk’ to emphasise the organisation's uniqueness and importance gave the manager a powerful instrument of control. Ideological control was also key to explaining the limited resistance to the implementation of financially oriented formal MCS. We contribute by detailing an important, yet still insufficiently explored, part of this implementation process, namely that the formal MCS, through the interplay with the predominant ideological control in place, became vested with symbolic significance. Thus, our findings show that the production of ‘concurrent visibility’ can be sought both through the design of formal MCS (as suggested by Chenhall, Hall, & Smith, 2013) and through the use of ideological control (as in our case). Our results also suggest the need to distinguish between professional and organisational identity when analysing MCS in health care organisations and NGOs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-59
Number of pages18
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Accounting talk
  • Compliance
  • Concurrent visibility
  • Healthcare
  • Ideological control
  • Non-governmental organization
  • Organizational identity

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