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Accounts of the future: a multiple-case study of scenarios in planning and management control processes

Palermo, Tommaso (2018) Accounts of the future: a multiple-case study of scenarios in planning and management control processes. Qualitative Research in Accounting and Management, 15 (1). pp. 2-23. ISSN 1176-6093

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Identification Number: 10.1108/QRAM-06-2016-0049

Abstract

Purpose This paper examines the design and use of scenarios in planning and management control processes. Research approach The study is based on an exploratory case-study approach. Qualitative data has been collected between 2008 and 2011 from three energy companies operating in Italy. Findings The paper sheds light on three styles of designing and using scenarios. In the first (called ‘reactive’), scenarios provide a means for corporate actors to analyse past performance in the light of future expected performance. In the second (‘proactive’), scenarios contribute to envision different future states of the world. In the third (‘disciplined’), scenarios contribute to develop plausible, if not accurate, narratives about future outcomes. Research limitations/implications The study is comparative and exploratory. Possible areas for further work based on in depth-studies of scenarios within planning and control processes are identified. Practical implications The comparative analysis of the case-study material has implications for the ways in which flexible forms of management control can be mobilised by managers as a resource of action. It is shown that choices around the design and use of scenarios can mitigate some concerns with traditional planning and management control processes focused on the achievement of a single set of targets, but also raise new ones. Originality The paper sheds light on a scenario-based approach - called ‘disciplined flexibility’ - that avoids the restrictive nature of budgetary controls without losing the benefits of setting a plan and a target for the future. The paper outlines elements that may support the use of ‘disciplined flexibility’, but also its potential limitations

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/loi/qram
Additional Information: © 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited
Divisions: Accounting
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
Sets: Departments > Accounting
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2018 13:03
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2020 01:16
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/86648

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