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Change agents’ enactment of management control systems: shaping strategic change in a telecommunications organisation

Purpose: This paper aims to use a perspective informed by practice theory to examine the influence of change agents in enacting management control systems (MCS) in the process of shaping strategy. Design/methodology/approach: The research uses a case study approach to examine the implementation of a business strategy in the utility sector. The authors seek a better understanding of practice theory and its role in influencing institutional change and stability. Findings: The case study findings show that the change agents enacted MCS practices that aided the metamorphosis of a once state-owned company into a for-profit enterprise. The findings show how the organisation transformed from a long-established preoccupation with technical systems and engineering and shifted to a focus on customer satisfaction and shareholder interests. Research limitations/implications: In terms of policy implications, bureaucrats need to appreciate that inculcating business norms is not an easy path and can be met with resistance, which creates delays in strategy implementation. The current study, while reporting some of the influences of tribal loyalty, was nevertheless limited by not having the time and space to examine in-depth the intersections of MCS and strategy within a strongly tribal context. This can be an avenue for future research. Practical implications: The study helps to understand embedded actors in the implementation of strategy by refocusing research on the actions and interactions of strategy implementation practitioners. Originality/value: The authors contribute to the literature by seeking to use practice theory and offer a valuable understanding, from the actor level, of how practices are created and enacted. Often accounting studies have paid less attention to the change agents in the process of shaping business-oriented strategic activity. This study enabled us to gain a better understanding of the action and practice behaviour around the strategy-MCS nexus.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
This is an author’s accepted version of an article published in Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management. © Emerald Publishing Limited.