Environmental management control. An empirical study on the use of environmental performance measures in management control systems
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Companies increasingly adapt their accounting systems to accommodate the internal demand of environmental-related information for making decisions and control their activities in compliance with extant environmental regulation. Prior research in environmental accounting has predominantly focused on (external) environmental reporting, while leaving the (internal) managerial accounting and control aspects associated to environmental management largely unexplored. The dissertation specifically examines the role and the implications of management control systems (MCS) in environmental management by focusing on the design and use of environmental performance measures (EPMs). The empirical part of the dissertation consists of a cross-sectional survey administered as part of a research program sponsored by the Controllers Instituut. Survey data are collected on a sample of 285 controllers and financial managers employed in manufacturing Dutch companies. In addition, a case study was carried out in collaboration with a European multinational company operating in the chemical sector. In combination, the two empirical studies provide exploratory evidence on determinants, consequences and processual aspects of EPMs use in MCS. The findings broadly support the role played by strategy as a relevant contingency factor affecting performance measurement choice. Consistent with expectations, companies associated with a higher intensity of environmental strategy tend to develop a wider range of EPMs. The findings add to the arguments rooted in the contingency-based tradition of management accounting research, which contend that a, so-called, 'congruence' type of fit should be present between strategic choice and use of management accounting systems. The results suggest that the presence of a clearly formulated environmental strategy is not a sufficient condition to ensure its implementation. Whereas strategy can be considered as a necessary antecedent of performance measurement choice, EPMs needs to exhibit acceptable levels of quality and reliability before they could be congruently used for decision-making and decision-control purposes.
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