Purpose: This paper aims to explore the application of management control systems (MCS) to business processes when an organisation is operating in an uncertain environment. The limitations of conventional process control in this context are described, and the opportunities to exploit current MCS ideas are considered. Design/methodology/approach: One such model, Simons' levers of control, is used for case study research in a European high technology start-up company. Findings: The findings suggest that the organisation responded to its uncertain environment with a package of formal and informal control systems for its strategically important business processes. The relative importance of individual business processes was observed to positively influence the rigour of control systems' implementation. Also, the inherent uncertainty or unpredictability of an individual business process was observed to influence the type of control systems employed. The use of guiding or enabling systems, particularly interactive control systems, was more pronounced in those business processes which were inherently unpredictable. Originality/value: These findings illustrate that adopting a MCS perspective to address business process control issues can yield new useful insights for managers when dealing with uncertainty.

Business process, Management control systems, Uncertainty
dx.doi.org/10.1108/IJQRM-03-2012-0040, hdl.handle.net/1765/84779
ERIM Top-Core Articles
International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Eldridge, S, van Iwaarden, J.D, van der Wiele, A, & Williams, A.R.T. (2014). Management control systems for business processes in uncertain environments. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 31(1), 66–81. doi:10.1108/IJQRM-03-2012-0040