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Strategy, strategic control systems and firm performance: A multiple case study approach
Solieri, Steven A.
State University of New York
Theses - Dissertation
Accounting academics and practitioners have been attempting to involve themselves by contributing more to the strategic processes of the firm. One way in which accountants may achieve this strategic integration is through the use of control systems and strategic controls. Strategic controls are the formal and informal systems that insure that the firm is establishing and maintaining its strategic direction, strategic effectiveness and its strategic integration over time [Fiegener, 1990]. By implementing the controls that match and support the strategic choices made, contingency theory would indicate that firms should achieve superior performance relative to those firms that do not display such a match. This research attempts to test contingency theory propositions with regard to the fit described above. The multiple case study method was utilized in order to obtain a better conceptualization of the constructs than was available from prior research. Using case studies allowed for the use of multiple methods (interviews, surveys, archival data, and direct observation) from multiple respondents (senior managers from many functional areas). This process allowed the researcher to triangulate data relative to each construct and the model as a whole. Constructs were conceptualized using some reliable and valid survey instruments to assess business strategy, manufacturing strategy, strategic control systems, and firm performance. The subject firms (2) were small manufacturing firms with sales of less than $20 million. Results of the case study indicated that a fit was achieved in some areas of the subset of strategic control known as internal monitoring, but the controls were not pervasive across all areas of internal monitoring as was suggested by the theory based on the strategy typing assigned. The subject firms also did not utilize a great deal of implementation controls (controls that ensure the strategy is being properly instituted) and they did almost no external monitoring although some was expected according to the theory. While the propositions or fit and superior performance were not upheld by the research, some evidence was provided for the lack of fit argument leading to poor relative performance.
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