Purpose: This paper examines a management control constructed by senior managers, a core value focused on sustainability, as it travels through time and space. The criticality of sustainable development suggests the need to understand the effects that core values have on organisational actions.Design/methodology/approach: We utilize a case study methodology carried out at a multinational organisation. Our analysis was informed by actor-network theory which allowed us to place the organisation’s sustainability focused core value at the centre of our research.
Findings: We found that management control, in the form of a sustainability focused core value, took on an active role in the case organisation. This enabled the opening of space and time that allowed actors to step forward and take action in relation to sustainable development. We show how the core value mobilised individual actors at specific points in time but did not enrol enough collective support to continue its travel. The resulting activities, though, provided a construction of sustainable development within the organisation more in line with traditional profit seeking objectives rather than in relation to sustainability objectives, such as inter- and intra-generational equity.
Research limitations/implications: These findings suggest possibilities for future research that examines the active role that management controls may take within sustainable development.
Originality/value: This paper shows the active role a management control, a sustainability focused core value, took within an organisation. This builds on the research that examines management control in relation to sustainability issues and sustainable development as well as the literature that examines core values.