The impact of regulation on management control: Compliance as a strategic response to institutional logics of university accreditation

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51 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - This paper aims to contribute to our understanding of the impact of regulation on management control practices. It explores the processes by which the institutionalised properties of certain management controls are adapted to organisational contexts and underpin organisational routines. The authors are interested in the voluntary adoption of management controls with highly developed institutional logics, how organisations respond initially to the institutional logics of new management controls and by what means those logics become a workable basis for institutionalising controls in the organisation. Design/methodology/approach - The paper explores some of the ways in which the institutional logics of management control come to have organisational effects, studying a seemingly simple organisational response to institutional processes: compliance. The argument is illustrated with examples from university accreditation as a management control institution that combines cultural and administrative controls. The paper is based on participant observation in three universities. Findings - The authors find that compliance requires considerable organisational meaning-making and that organisational work of compliance separates into adaptation and execution. Moreover, the process of compliance produces distinctions between experts of the accreditation logic, users of the accreditation logic, agnostics and sceptics. Rather than passive acquiescence, compliance with regulated management control is a creative process of arranging and translating general prescriptions for use in a specific context. Originality/value - This is the first study of university accreditation as a management control institution. It adds to a still emerging literature on the effects of institutional logics, and in particular regulatory logics, on organisational management control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-126
Number of pages21
JournalQualitative Research in Accounting and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 15 2015


  • Compliance
  • Institutional logic
  • Management control
  • Regulation
  • Strategic response
  • University accreditation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Accounting


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