Simons' levers of control framework: Commensuration within and of the framework
Lillis, Anne M.
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Curtis, Emer, Lillis, Anne M., & Sweeney, Breda. (2017) Simons’ Levers of Control Framework: Commensuration within and of the Framework, in Mary A. Malina (ed.) Advances in Management Accounting (Advances in Management Accounting, Volume 28) Emerald Publishing Limited, pp.87 - 12
Abstract Purpose Despite extensive adoption of Simons’ Levers of Control (LoC) framework, there is still considerable diversity in its operationalization which impedes the coherent development of the literature and compromises its value to researchers. The purpose of this paper is to draw researchers back to the conceptual core of the framework as a basis for stable, consistent definitions of the domain of observables. Methodology/approach We derive the conceptual core of the framework from Simons’ writings. We highlight instability in existing operational definitions of the LoC, weaknesses in the extent to which these definitions reference this conceptual core, and inconsistencies in the restriction of LoC to formal information-based routines. Findings We draw on the inconsistencies identified to build the case for commensuration or a “common standard” for the framework’s use on two levels: the constructs within the framework (through reference to the conceptual core of the framework) and the framework itself (through explicit inclusion of informal controls). Research implications We illustrate the benefits of commensuration through the potential to guide the scope of the domain of observables in empirical LoC studies, and to study LoC as complementary or competing with other management control theories. Originality/value Our approach to resolving tensions arising from inconsistencies in the empirical definitions of LoC differs from others in that we focus on the strategic variables underlying the framework to define the conceptual core. We believe this approach offers greater potential for commensuration at the level of the constructs within the framework and the framework itself.