HARP Seminar, presented by Peter Beusch: "Why has integrating sustainability into businesses taken so long? A management control system view on this"
Sustainability has drawn the attention of scholars but also corporate professionals for years and today, there is hardly any significant company that does not see sustainability as an important factor to take into account. Unfortunately, however, companies’ outwardly for decades visible enthusiasm and rhetoric illustrating a shift to more sustainability have seldom been followed by real action. Research shows that managers still struggle with designing and enacting sustainability strategies into genuine practice and sustainable outcomes.
This longitudinal study contributes to this line of research by exploring the efforts of a large industrial firm to align and coordinate financial oriented and sustainability oriented control systems to support the implementation of its sustainability strategy. The study investigates and discusses interdependencies among Simons’ (1994) Levers of Control (LOC) that are relevant for that alignment, identifies challenges to full integration of the systems and expands earlier research. Results suggest a need for an expanded understanding of the notion of integration and what this means in terms of control system design and use as such an integration both helped but also prevented a faster development of sustainability related issues. They also indicate that not only the presence but also the properties and use of the LOC’s at certain stages is important to supporting the implementation of a sustainability strategy and for sustainable outcomes. Finally, the paper addresses the issue of whether or not radical changes in management control practices are needed to promote real corporate sustainability.
Short Bio on presenter: Peter Beusch is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Business Administration at the University of Gothenburg where he has been a faculty member since 2008 and today also a member of the department council. Peter completed his Ph.D. (2007), Licentiate (2004), Master (2002) and Bachelor (2001) studies at the University of Gothenburg. His research interests are in the area of management accounting and control in general and the connection of this discipline to sustainability issues, integrated reporting, and educational accounting issues in particular. In recent years, he has also focused on meta-theoretical issues concerning pragmatic constructivism and the earlier mentioned research fields. He is collaborating actively with researchers from the USA and Denmark and within diverse academic areas. Peter has published in several peer-reviewed international journals and books, presented papers at over 20 conferences and has served on several conference and workshop program committees. Peter is a course director for several undergraduate and post-graduate courses at the university within the field of management accounting/management control and has an extensive network with external university partners and private companies.