The Use of Management Control Systems to Formulate and Implement CSR Strategy: A Levers of Control Perspective


Management Accounting Research

December 2013, vol. 24, n°4, pp.284-300

Departments: Accounting & Management Control

Directed by: special issue on "Challenges for management accounting arising from the sustainable development agenda"

Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR strategy, Levers of control, Management control systems, Sustainability

Little is known about the role of management control systems (MCS) in managing the strategic processes that underpin Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). To enhance our understanding of this phenomenon, this study employs Simons’ (1995) levers of control framework to explore how organizations leverage MCS in different ways in order to drive strategic renewal and trigger organizational change while simultaneously supporting society's broader sustainability agenda. Drawing on data gathered from France's largest listed companies – members of the CAC 40 – we provide insights into the structures and processes that companies employ to design, implement and monitor their CSR strategy. In doing so, we provide evidence of the way that organizations seek to attain their CSR objectives, and of the relationship between the management of CSR and other business processes. Of particular interest is the role of the levers of control in enabling managers to identify and manage threats and opportunities associated with CSR strategy, thus forming risk management processes that support organizations in their attainment of strategic objectives. Furthermore, the study provides evidence suggesting the use of MCS has the potential to contribute to society's broader sustainability agenda through processes that enable innovation, communication, reporting, and the identification of threats and opportunities