Management Control Systems, Strategy and Performance: An Exploratory Analysis of Family and Non-family Firms in Chile.

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1 Management Control Systems, Strategy and Performance: An Exploratory Analysis of Family and Non-family Firms in Chile. Moses Acquaah. Bryan School of Business and Economics, University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Claudio G. Müller 1. School of Economics and Business, University of Chile. Abstract The objective of this research is to compare the relationships among management control systems, business strategy and firm performance in family and non-family businesses, focusing on a developing economy in Latin America. Data from 183 small and medium-sized family enterprises in Chile were analyzed following the methodology developed by Acquaah (2013). Implications for theory and practice are discussed that may provide possible competitive advantages for family firms in a Latin-American context. Keywords: Management Control Systems, Performance, Latin-American, Chile. 1. Introduction and Purpose Control is defined as a "process which compares what is done with what is planned" (Moilanen, 2008), to establish if there are deviations and to later apply the corrective measures which keep the action within set limits. For this, there are verification controls and learning controls. Both controls have a similar structure, but have underlying differences between them. Jordan (1995) defines management control as an instrument which supports top-level decision making in order to plan objectives, develop an action plan and verify that these objectives have been reached. A different point of view on management control is that defined by Anthony (1965, p. 42) as the process by which Managers ensure that resources are obtained and used effectively and efficiently in the accomplishment of the organization s objectives. This definition limited subsequent researchers not only to envisaging management control systems (MCS) as encompassing the largely accounting-based controls of planning, monitoring of activities, measuring performance and integrating mechanisms, but also served to artificially separate management control from strategic control and operational control. Several authors have agreed that conventional wisdom assumes this as a purely economic rationality behind management accounting and control, and that the multiplicity of research based on institutional perspectives has revealed the social aspects of business, as an institution that is a reciprocal typification of habitualized action by types of actors (Berger and Luckmann, 1967, p. 72). This idea is linked with strategy. The strategy concept was not used explicitly as a variable in MCS research until the 1980s. This is surprising, considering the field of business strategy or business policy has become increasingly important since it emerged in the 1950s (Chandler, 1962). Chandler extended his thesis that the modern economy had rendered family-led enterprise obsolete in scale and scope (Chandler, 1990). He argued that the dynastic impulse continued family leadership regardless of its cost along with the limits this imposes on the accumulation of human and financial capital prevents 1 Corresponding Author: Claudio Müller, University of Chile, Diagonal Paraguay # 257 Suite 1905, Santiago, Chile. +(56) ~ 1 ~

2 family-led firms from making the investments needed to develop the economies of scale and scope to the same extent as managerially-led enterprises. Other researchers identify a variety of other mechanisms that are used as MCS at family-controlled firms (Villalonga and Amit, 2006). The concept of MCS can include management accounting systems, budgetary practices, performance measurement systems, project management systems, planning systems, and reporting systems (Simons, 1990).Several empirical studies have shown that there are differences in the instrumentation and use of the MCS between family and nonfamily businesses (Kotey, 2005; Moilanen, 2008; Laitinen, 2008; Acquaah, 2013). MCS plays an important role in the performance of family businesses where MCSs are converted into prioritary tools that the managers should adopt for suitable decision making (Davila and Foster, 2005; Duhan, 2007). These may be due to certain characteristics that differentiate family from non-family firms, and constitute what Habbershon& Williams (1999) have called familiness, which they define as a set of resources particular to the business that are attributable to the presence of the family in company management. These resources and capabilities are unique, inseparable and synergetic. They derive from the family s involvement and interaction with the business and are a source of long-term competitive advantage (Zellweger, Eddleston&Kellermanns, 2010). The objective of this study is to examine the extent to which family firms use MCS and how their use of MCS enables them to gain competitive advantages by affecting the implementation of their business strategy and performance relative to non-family businesses in a developing economy, in particular in a Latin-American country like Chile. 2. Theoretical Framework and Hypotheses From business strategy points of view, and according to Porter (1980), firms can choose cost leadership strategy (characterized by tight cost and overheads control, EOS, efficient facilities usage and high market shares) or differentiation strategy, (characterized by product and service uniqueness through brand and customer loyalty, innovativeness, and marketing). According to Simons (2000), MCS can be categorized into four: (a) belief systems; (b) boundary systems; (c) diagnostic control systems (DCS); and (d) interactive control systems (ICS). Belief and boundary systems are used to frame the strategic choice; while DCS and ICS are the feedback and performance management systems (PMS) used to elaborate and implement strategy (Bisby&Otley, 2004). Management accounting and strategy researchers, therefore, argue that MCSs are crucial to the formulation and implementation of business strategy (Bruining, Bonnet, and Wright, 2004; Kober, Ng, and Paul, 2007; Marginson, 2002). Our study focuses on DCS and ICS. The DCSs are the formal feedback mechanisms used to monitor and reward the achievement of pre-determined outcomes, serving to review and monitor outputs, correcting deviations from preset measures, and discouraging opportunityseeking behavior associated with tight control of operations, highly structured communication channels, and restricted flows of information (. On the other hand, the ICSs are the formal mechanisms that managers use to personally involve themselves in the decision-making activities of subordinates. These lead to exchanges between top management and lower level management and organizational members. ICSs also provide the opportunity to debate and ~ 2 ~

3 challenge underlying assumptions; they focus attention on strategic uncertainties and encourage opportunity-seeking behavior and experimentation. The unique characteristics exhibited by family businesses such as the unification of family life and business activities; the desire to preserve the family s socioemotional wealth; the perpetration of cohesive clan cultures, and the pursuit of both financial and nonfinancial goals (Gomez-Mejia, Cruz, Berrone, and De Castro, 2011; Habbershon and Williams, 1999; Miller & Le Breton-Miller, 2005) distinguishes family businesses from non-family businesses. These differences would be manifested in the way MCS would be used to support the implementation of business strategy and their subsequent impact on performance in family and non-family businesses. The relationships between MCS, business strategy and performance are expressed in terms of four hypotheses, formally stated below and depicted in Figure 1: H 1 : The influence of DCS on business strategy will be greater for Non-Family Business than for Family Business. H 2 : The influence of ICS on business strategy will be greater for Family Business than for Non-Family Business. H 3 : The total effect of DCS on performance through business strategy will be greater for Non-Family Business than for Family Business. H 4 : The total effect of ICS on performance through business strategy will be greater for Family Business than for Non-Family Business. Data Set [Insert Figure 1 here] The data used to test the model s hypotheses is drawn from a database of 183 Chilean firms who responded to the survey conducted for this study, between January and March The average age of these businesses was 46 years. To be included in the database a firm had to be controlled by a single family (i.e., with an ownership more than 50%) and have an official Board of Directors or be in the process of appointing one. 31 of them (17%) were listed on the Santiago Stock Exchange while the rest were privately held. In 89% of cases, the CEO was a member of the controlling family, and 8.2% had a Family Council. Of the 1,239 directors, senior managers and other executives at these firms, 14.7% responded to the survey. We used previously validated measures of MCS in the Western world (e.g., Henri, 2006; Widener, 2007) and Simon s (2000) description of MCS to operationalize it. We further relied on Dess and Davis (1984) conceptualization of Porter s (1980) business strategy typology which has been used in several studies to measure business strategy. Performance was measured using both financial (e.g., profitability) and non-financial (productivity, growth, market share) measures. More detailed demographic characteristics are shown in Table 1. [Insert Table 1 here] 3. Expected Findings and Contribution We expect to corroborate the hypothesized relationships that we have proposed. First, the expected findings to confirm the results obtained by Acquaah (2013) using data from Ghana and enhance the generalizability of the findings in other developing countries with different cultural and institutional environments. Second, the findings will provide top managers in family businesses the opportunity to alter the behavior of employees towards performance ~ 3 ~

4 measurement and control; and communicate and ensure continual attention to strategic initiatives. Moreover, family business managers would be able to focus employees attention towards the implementation of strategy; and the allocation of the limited resources effectively and efficiently in mitigating the weaknesses they face in the complex, and uncertain business environment. Thus this proposed research will contribute to both the strategy and family business literatures in filing the gap on the utilization and role of MCS in influencing business strategy and performance. References Acquaah, M. (2013). Management control systems, business strategy and performance: A comparative analysis of family and non-family businesses in a transition economy in sub- Saharan Africa. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 4(2): Anthony, R. N. (1965). Planning and Control Systems: Framework for Analysis. Boston Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University. Berger, P. &Lukmann, T. (1967). The Social Construction of Reality; a TreauseIn the Sociology of Knowledge, Penguin, Harmondsworth (Original: Doubleday, Garden City, N. Y. 1966) Bisbe, J., &Otley, D. (2004). The effects of the interactive use of management control systems on product innovation. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 29, Bruining, H., Bonnet, M., & Wright, M. (2004). Management control systems and strategy change in buyouts. Management Accounting Research, 15, Chandler, A.D. (1962). Strategy and structure: chapters in the history of the industrial enterprise. M.I.T. Cambridge, MA: Press Chandler, A.D. (1990). Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press Dávila, A., & Foster, G. (2005). Management accounting systems adoptions decisions: Evidence and performance implications from early stage/startup companies. The Accounting Review, 80(4): Dess, G. G., & Davis, P. S. (1984).Porter s (1980) generic strategies as determinants of strategic group memberships and organizational performance. Academy of Management Journal, 27, Duhan, S. (2007). A capabilities based toolkit for strategic information systems planning in SMEs, International Journal of information Management, 27: Gomez-Mejia, L. R., Cruz, C., Berrone, P., & De Castro, J. (2011). The bind that ties: Socioemotional wealth preservation in family firms. The Academy of Management Annals, 5(1), Habbershon, G. T., & Williams, M. L. (1999).A resource-based framework for assessing strategic advantage of family firms. Family Business Review, 12, Henri, J.-F. (2006). Management control systems and strategy: A resource-based perspective. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 31, Jordán H. (1995). Control de gestión. DEADE, ComisiónEuropea, 1995/1996 Kober, R., Ng, J., & Paul, B. J. (2007).The interrelationship between management control mechanisms and strategy. Management Accounting Research, 18, Kotey, B. (2005). Goals, management practices, and performance of family SMEs. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour& Research, 11 (1): Laitinen, E. (2008). Value drivers in finnish family-owned firms: Profitability, growth and risk, International Journal of Accounting and Finance, 1(1): Marginson, D. E. (2002). Management control systems and their effects on strategy formation at the middle-management levels: Evidence from a UK organization. Strategic Management Journal, 23, Miller, D., & Le Breton-Miller, I. (2005).Managing for the long run: Lessons in competitive advantage from great family businesses. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press. ~ 4 ~

5 Moilanen, S. (2008). The role of accounting in the management control system: a case study of a family-led firm, Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, 5(3): Porter, M. E. (1980). Competitive strategy: Techniques for analyzing industries and competitors. New York: Free Press. Simons, R. (1990). The role of management control systems in creating competitive advantage: New perspectives. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 15(1 2), Simons, R. (2000). Performance measurement and control systems for implementing strategy. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Villalonga, B. and R. Amit. (2006). How Do Family Ownership, Control, and Management Affect Firm Value? Journal of Financial Economics 80, Widener, S. K. (2007).An empirical analysis of the levers of control framework. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 32, Zellweger, T. M., Eddleston, K. A., &Kellermanns, F. W. (2010).Exploring the concept of familiness: Introducing family firm identity. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 1(1), ~ 5 ~

6 Figure 1: Relationships between set-ups and hypotheses Table 1: Demographic characteristic of Sample Demographic characteristic Firm Sector State-owned enterprises 31 17% Private Enterprises % Total % Overall Family businesses Non-family businesses # of firms / frequency Per cent # of firms Per cent # of firms Per cent Business sector Manufacturing 28 15% 17 18% 11 13% Service % 79 82% 76 87% Family versus nonfamily businesses Family businesses 96 52% Nonfamily businesses 87 48% Total % Firm size (number of employees) Less than 27 15% 18 19% 9 10% % 2 2% 1 1% % 10 10% 5 6% % 22 23% 12 14% 500 and over % 44 46% 60 69% Firm age (years) Less than % 14 15% 2 2% % 27 28% 13 15% % 22 23% 12 14% 30 and over 93 51% 33 34% 60 69% Public versus privately owned Public (listed on stock market) 31 17% 12 13% 19 22% Privately owned % 84 88% 68 78% ~ 6 ~

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