Cross-cultural research in management control systems design: A review of the current state

Graeme L. Harrison, Jill McKinnon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reviews cross-cultural research in management control systems (MCS) appearing in English-language journals over the past 15 years. The objectives are to examine these studies for their convergence or otherwise with respect to the state of our understanding of cultural effects on MCS design, and to analyse their theoretical and methodological strengths and weaknesses to guide future research. The review identifies four major weaknesses seen to apply collectively to this research: (i) a failure to consider the totality of the cultural domain in theoretical exposition; (ii) a tendency to not consider explicitly the differential intensity of cultural norms and values across nations; (iii) a tendency to treat culture simplistically both in the form of its representation as a limited set of aggregate dimensions, and in the assumption of a uniformity and unidimensionality of those dimensions; and (iv) an excessive reliance on the value dimensional conceptualization of culture, which has produced a highly restricted conception and focus on culture, and placed critical limits on the extent of understanding derived from the research to date.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-506
Number of pages24
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1999


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