Reference : Sustainability, Strategy and Management Control: A Review of the Literature
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference
Business & economic sciences : Accounting & auditing
Sustainability, Strategy and Management Control: A Review of the Literature
Crutzen, Nathalie mailto [Université de Liège - ULg > HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'ULg : UER > Sustainable Strategy >]
Herzig, Christian [ICCSR (Nottigham) > >]
24th CSEAR Conference
du 2 au 5 septembre 2012
Centre for Social and Environmental Accounting Research (St Andrews)
St Andrews
[en] Sustainability ; Strategy ; Management Control ; Review of the literature
[en] The purpose of this research is to explore the emerging body of literature on the relationship between sustainability, strategy and management control. Our way to organise and present the literature aims to both structure the state of our knowledge in this area and stimulate others to contribute to a shared and better understanding of this field of research.

Previous research has underlined that (sustainability) management control systems play a key role in shaping processes of (sustainability/CSR) strategy formulation and implementation (e.g. Simons, 1990; Epstein and Wisner, 2005; Gond et al., 2011). While the relationship between management control systems and strategy has widely been investigated in the traditional accounting and control literature (e.g. Simons, 1990; Langfield-Smith, 1997; Ferreira and Otley, 2009; Tucker et al., 2009), this is much less frequent in the context of research related to the concept of sustainability. Indeed, until recently social and environmental accounting research has predominantly paid attention to external reporting and accountability (e.g. Albelda, 2011; Gray, 2002) or the link between corporate social responsibility/environmental management and economic performance (e.g. Henri and Journeault, 2010).

Conscious of this situation, several researchers have stressed the need for research on the interrelation between sustainability, strategy and control (Parker, 2000; Chung and Parker, 2008; Durden, 2008) and a growing body of literature has emerged over the last years. We hope that in reviewing and reflecting on how this emerging body of literature is organised we can contribute to a better understanding of our current knowledge and to the development of new knowledge in the future. The paper thus also aims to suggest future directions for research.

Our interest in reviewing and codifying the literature is also driven by a practical need to further embed sustainability into organisations. Until today, it seems that many organisations are still confronted with difficulties in “operationalising” sustainability and translating their strategic aspirations for sustainability into practice in the midst of many other business pressures (Epstein and Roy, 2001; Schaltegger and Wagner, 2006; Taplin et al., 2006; CIMA and Accenture, 2011).

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