Waves of fashion : The consuming production of management control
Abstract: The responsiveness of organizational leaders regarding suggestions related to various managerial techniques has led to the coinage of the ‘management fashion’ idiom. It has been convincingly argued that phenomena like management control systems are prone to trends, and that such trends permeate into the daily life of managers through the use of persuasive rhetoric.This thesis is a theory-generating study of change in management control systems. More precisely, its purpose is to seek an understanding of how fashions within the field of management control emerge through processes of interaction and co-production. By asking the question “how do the forces involved in the shaping of a market for management control systems interact and combine in order to create management fashions?” the thesis seeks to generate a comprehensive conjecture on the management fashion setting process.The thesis is based on an empirical case study completed with extensive literature readings. In order to generate theory, a methodology based on abductive reasoning has been produced. Theoretically, the thesis borrows from micro sociological theory on imitation and co-production but extends also into such fields as psychology, aesthetics, rhetoric and economics; aside from the obvious management control and management accounting themes.The thesis concludes by producing a comprehensive model of the management fashion setting process. The contribution of the thesis can be understood as either providing an alternative to or completing the dominant interpretation of the phenomena. The main difference between the arrived at suggestion and the prevailing interpretation is the role of the actors which is changed from norm following consumers of fashion to creative producers of fashion. This change represents a change in scientific traditions and necessitates the adoption of additional frames of reference when studying management fashion phenomena.
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