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Normative or rational control: What's happening today?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Business Studies. EKO-sektorn.
2006 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Surges of ideologies of control are alternating between rational and normative rhetoric of control (Barley & Kunda, ASQ, 1992). Rational surges tend to coincide with 25-30 year long wave periods of expansion, while normative surges tend to coincide with periods of contraction (ibid.). When the authors published their article in 1992 they claimed we experienced a normative surge they called organizational culture and quality. My main question is if we still face this surge today or if a rational surge has taken over. From a Swedish perspective, I try to answer the question drawing on a general discussion about what control models that are popular today, and by comparing two empirical case studies of change projects from different periods of time. Both the general discussion and the cases suggest that we have had a change to a rational surge, which focuses on issues like transparency, auditing and shareholder value. I also conclude that the surge to a large extent is influenced by ideas linked to principal-agency theory. However, the surge of normative control does not seem to coincide with a new long wave period of expansion. Finally, I elaborate on the authors’ explanation for what makes rational or normative surges dominate in certain periods bringing in single- and double-loop learning. I link single-loop learning to rational control and double-loop learning to normative control, the latter focusing on underlying factors like the employee’s values and beliefs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Dublin, 2006.
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-26069OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-26069DiVA: diva2:53843
The 29th Annual Congress of the European Accounting Association, Dublin, March 22-24, 2006
Available from: 2007-02-14 Created: 2007-02-14 Last updated: 2010-11-08Bibliographically approved

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