Enacting governance at the local level through management control systems: the case of a multinational energy company

Fabrizio Granà, Giulia Achilli, Cristiano Busco, Maria Federica Izzo

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Purpose: This paper draws on the case of a multinational energy company to explore the role played by Management Control Systems (MCSs) in enacting governance policies at the local (subsidiary) level.

Design/methodology/approach: This research mobilizes the literature on governmentality to interpret MCSs as technologies of government that can be drawn upon to translate governance policies into practice. In particular, the authors discuss this process by interpreting ‘governance’ as an epistemic object, that is an object that generates knowledge because of its inherent incompleteness and abstract nature.

Findings: The paper shows how MCSs act as technical objects insofar they attract, bind and engage local subsidiary managers in the generation of knowledge about governance policies (i.e. the epistemic object) set at the global level, thereby enacting these policies locally.

Practical implications: The findings have practical implications by showing how subsidiary managers engage with MCSs in order to translate and implement broader governance policies in their daily activities.

Originality/value: This research contributes to the accounting literature on governmentality by showing the role of MCSs as technologies that enact governance at the local level through the process of knowledge generation that these technologies enable. Such knowledge is triggered by the engagement between different participating subjects, attracted by MCSs in the attempt to define governance in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalMeditari Accountancy Research
Issue number1
Early online date20 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2021


  • Governance
  • Epistemic object
  • Technical object
  • Management control systems
  • Governmentality

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