Staff Responses to Management Control Systems Changes in an Australian University

Billah, Mamun
Ahmed, Zahir Uddin
Ali, Mohoboot
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Journal Article
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Purpose This study aims to examine staff responses to management control systems (MCS) changes in an Australian university. Through the analysis of the category of staff responses, it aims to understand the perception gaps among the staff at different levels of the university.

Design/methodology/approach Using a case study approach on an Australian university, data was collected from interviews with staff across three hierarchical levels to explore their behavioural responses.

Findings This study finds that staff at all levels largely complied with MCS changes due to institutional enforcement. Top management emphasised aligning with government policies and funding, often using manipulation and compartmentalisation tactics in implementing the new MCS. Mid-level managers generally favour research strategies but feel excluded from decision-making and have limited influence over funding. They adopted a balancing tactic within a compromise strategy. Meanwhile, operating-level academics had mixed experiences, feeling largely powerless in influencing MCS while also showing instances of self-motivated compliance. Overall, the study reveals varying responses across different hierarchical levels, highlighting the complexities of MCS changes in staff behaviour and attitudes.

Research limitations/implications The insights from this study can guide university administrators and policymakers in understanding the intricate variations in staff reactions to institutional changes. By recognising the factors that drive compliance and defiance, institutions can better navigate and implement changes in MCS.

Originality/value This research offers a unique perspective on the behavioural side of MCS changes in higher education. By focusing on varied hierarchical levels within a university, the study provides a granular understanding of individual responses, enriching the existing literature on MCS transitions in academia.

35 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services , 3507 Strategy, Management and Organisational Behaviour , 4 Quality Education , 1501 Accounting, Auditing and Accountability , 1502 Banking, Finance and Investment , 3501 Accounting, auditing and accountability , 3502 Banking, finance and investment
Accounting Research Journal, ISSN: 1030-9616 (Print); 1030-9616 (Online), Emerald, ahead-of-print(ahead-of-print). doi: 10.1108/arj-03-2023-0087
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Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2024. Authors retain the right to place his/her pre-publication version of the work on a personal website or institutional repository for non commercial purposes. The definitive version was published in (see Citation). The original publication is available at (see Publisher’s Version).