Co-existing concepts of management control: The containment of tensions due to the implementation of lean production

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There is substantial evidence that the implementation of lean production and similar inno-vations is not always successful. One of the explanations provided is that elements of tradi-tional control systems may frustrate the transformation process. Although various studies have investigated the changes in control systems due to the implementation of lean pro-duction, only a few studies have explored the effects of the remaining traditional controls on lean implementations. This paper argues that lean production brings with it a new con-cept of control, which alters people’s views of being in control. The new concept of con-trol may co-exist with the traditional concept, but particularly at their interfaces, tensions may arise. Using case studies in four manufacturing companies in the Netherlands, this pa-per explores the various localised ways in which these companies dealt with such tensions to ensure that lean production continued. The paper concludes that lean transformations do not require a fundamental resolution of the problems that arise from inconsistent con-cepts of control, as long as companies have learned to cope with the localised tensions that may result from inconsistencies between such concepts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-83
Number of pages17
JournalManagement Accounting Research
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • lean production
  • control system
  • implementation
  • management control

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