A4 Article in conference proceedings
Values and targets in relation to “the self” in management control: The case of a CEO and a company fighting for survival

List of Authors: Terhi Chakhovich
Place: Brussels, Belgium
Publication year: 2016
Book title *: Proceedings of Conference on New Directions in Management Accounting, 2016
ISSN: 2295-1717


In management control literature, values
have been perceived as “soft” notions representing culture and general ways of
thinking in a given organization, while being acknowledged as directing people
rather strongly by underlying unquestioned assumptions and taken-for-granted ways
of acting. There is a paradox here: by which mechanism can values
simultaneously be both “soft” and so strong they direct individuals? This study
explores this paradox with the assistance of organizational targets by taking a
new approach to values and targets in relation to “the self”. This novel
approach is based on empirical findings in a case company that is fighting for
its very survival, relying on interviews with company representatives and
stakeholders as well as archival data; the empirical focus is on the CEO of the
company as well as the company itself. It is shown that in this extreme case,
values represent a favorable picture of “the self” whereas certain targets
become ways in which “the self” can stay alive and survive, i.e. how the CEO
can keep alive both his company and his own conceptualization of “the self”, when
fighting against a major competitor. As a limited number of targets become
powerfully related to “the self”, these targets are thus shown to take on this
characteristic of values, entering a space reserved for values. It is also explicated
why values do not enter the space reserved for targets; although values
represent something unchanging and important about “the self”, they are not perceived
to help in the survival of the self in this extreme case. The study discusses how
“soft” values are values at easier times while “strong” values are those values
whose space has partly been taken over by targets at difficult times. The study
points to a way of implementing management control by which values can be performed
by attaching them to targets; ethical dilemmas in relation to this are

Internal Authors/Editors

Last updated on 2019-21-08 at 23:12