TitleImprinting founders' blueprints on management control systems
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsAkroyd, C, Kober, R
JournalManagement Accounting Research
Date Published2020

In this paper we seek to understand the influence of founders on the design and use of management control systems (MCS) through a theoretical lens known as imprinting. The organizational literature shows that founders are a source of imprinting, since their unique background informs the blueprint for their organization, which can affect patterns of organizational design and development. We undertake a case study of an innovative early-stage growth-focused manufacturing firm established by founders who espoused a commitment blueprint (one of five possible blueprints). Founders who have a commitment blueprint aim to establish a workplace where employees feel an intense emotional attachment to each other and the firm and are passionate about the firm’s vision. We examine how founders’ commitment blueprint influences the design and use of MCS. We show that the imprint of a founder’s commitment blueprint is reflected in the design and use of cultural controls and employee selection to establish a workplace that fosters an intense emotional attachment and identification comparable to a family’s, with an organizational culture where employees are committed and passionate about the firm. While these controls have previously been shown to make up the central components of a commitment blueprint, our results reveal a reliance on cultural controls and employee selection is not exclusive, but supported and reinforced through managers’ design and use of personnel controls, results controls, action controls, penalties, and informal controls. We also find a reluctance to implement controls that are seen as bureaucratic, since it is felt they would negatively influence the organizational culture.