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Revisiting the Linkages between Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility and Management Control Systems

Special issue call for papers from Corporate Governance

The submission portal for this special issue will open February 1, 2020

Corporate Governance – The International Journal of Business in Society is pleased to invite papers for a special issue on “Revisiting the Linkages between Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility and Management Control Systems”

Overview of the Theme
Over the last few years, the concepts of sustainability, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and management control systems (MCSs) have continued to draw the attention of scholars and practitioners alike. While a great deal of research has been conducted to explore the separate areas of sustainability, CSR and MCSs, very few concerted research efforts have been made to systematically integrate these concepts (Gond et al., 2012; Lueg and Radlach, 2016). Accordingly, in this special issue, we seek papers that examine the diverse linkages between sustainability, CSR and MCSs concepts.

Management control systems are essential for fostering sustainability and CSR implementation. However, the traditional accounting-based MCSs were largely developed to align a company’s rules, procedures, policies, and structures with its financial goals that solely address the economic interests of shareholders. Additionally, the traditional MCSs offer limited opportunity to address sustainability and CSR issues including the non-financial – social and environmental interests of wide-ranging stakeholder groups (Bonacchi and Rinaldi, 2007; Burritt and Schaltegger, 2010; Herzig et al., 2012). Accordingly, it is important to examine how MCSs would enable sustainability and CSR principles by linking both formal and informal control approaches to sustainability and CSR strategies (Laguir et al., 2019). Prior studies have provided the need to consider congruence of formal and informal controls to implement sustainability and CSR strategies effectively (Laguir et al., 2019). However, we know little about the optimal configurations of different types of controls that exist in varied contexts. As such, there is a growing need to understand the congruence between formal and informal controls to foster the implementation of sustainability and CSR strategies (Laguir et al., 2019; Ghosh et al., 2019). Some researchers have argued that both forms of controls need to reinforce one another to promote sustainability and CSR objectives internally, while others discuss the primacy of informal controls negating the need for formal controls (Crutzen 2017; Ghosh et al., 2019). Control congruity or primacy is based on research undertaken on a limited number of organizations (Ghosh et al., 2019).

Holistic frameworks of MCSs should support the optimal configurations argument (Gond et al., 2012; Ghosh et al., 2019). For example, the management control package (e.g., Malmi and Brown, 2008; Simons, 1995) perspective is adopted to systematically and holistically explore what different MCSs configurations are observable in practice and informed by different strategic orientations (Crutzen et al., 2017; Gond et al., 2012). This observation begs the question of how different MCSs promote sustainable and CSR business management (Ghosh et al., 2019).

Moreover, research on the role of MCSs for strategic formulation and implementation is also scarce. For example, the levers of control framework by Simons (1995) has been applied to examine the role of controls in developing emerging strategies (Laguir et al., 2019). In addition, informal controls can raise awareness of sustainability and CSR within organizations and support strategic formulation (Ghosh et al., 2019). Thus, there is now a need to go beyond this and consider how formal interactive controls and informal controls can benefit companies in formulating sustainability and CSR strategies (Ghosh et al., 2019). At the same time, at the implementation level MCSs may also differ in their design complexities in relation to sustainability and CSR strategic pursuits (Crutzen et al., 2017; Ghosh et al., 2019; Laguir et al., 2019). Accordingly, it is pertinent to explore suitable control designs that are aligned to sustainability and CSR strategies (Ghosh et al., 2019).

Topics of Interest

We welcome conceptual and empirical papers from a variety of perspectives but we encourage contributions that deal with the issues outlined below. However, this is a non-exhaustive list:

  • MCSs’ operationalization in the context of sustainability and CSR implementation
  • Managing sustainability and CSR impacts through formal MCSs (e.g., performance measurement and evaluation, compensation, and incentives)
  • Managing sustainability and CSR impacts through informal MCSs (e.g., shared values, norms, cultures, customs, trust, and self-control)
  • The role of leadership in the development of MCSs for sustainability and CSR implementation
  • Relationship between Corporate governance, MCSs, sustainability and CSR
  • Relationship between social MCSs and firm financial performance

Publication Schedule
Completed papers of between 5,000-7,000 words in length should be submitted via the Corporate Governance online submission site no later than April 30, 2020: (select the correct special issue from the dropdown menu).

  • Deadline for paper submission: April 30, 2020
  • Reviewers’ first report: July 15, 2020
  • Revised paper submissions: August 15, 2020
  • Expected formal publication date (print and online): December 2020

Submissions should follow Corporate Governance author guidelines at

Bonacchi, M. and Rinaldi, L. (2007), “DartBoards and clovers as new tools in sustainability planning and control”, Business Strategy and the Environment, Vol. 16 No. 7, pp. 461-473.

Burritt, R.L. and Schaltegger, S. (2010), “Sustainability accounting and reporting: Fad or trend?”, Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 23 No. 7, pp. 829-846.

Crutzen, N., Zvezdov, D., and Schaltegger, S. (2017), “Sustainability and management control. Exploring and theorizing control patterns in large European firms”, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 143, pp. 1291-1301.

Ghosh, B., Herzig, C. and Mangena, M. (2019), “Controlling for sustainability strategies: Findings from research and directions for the future”, Journal of Management Control, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 5-24.

Gond, J.P., Grubnic, S., Herzig, C. and Moon, J. (2012), “Configuring management control systems: Theorizing the integration of strategy and sustainability”, Management Accounting Research, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 205-223.

Herzig, C., Viere, T., Schaltegger, S. and Burritt, R. (2012), Environmental Management Accounting, Case Studies of South East-Asian Companies, Routledge, London.

Laguir, L., Laguir, I. and Tchemeni, E. (2019), “Implementing CSR activities through management control systems: A formal and informal control perspective”, Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 531-555.

Lueg, R. and Radlach, R. (2016), “Managing sustainable development with management control systems: A literature review”, European Management Journal, Vol. 34 No. 2, pp. 158-171.

Malmi, T. and Brown, D.A. (2008), “Management control systems as a package – opportunities, challenges and research directions”, Management Accounting Research, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 287-300.

Simons, R. (1995), Levers of Control, How Managers Use Innovative Control Systems to Drive Strategic Renewal. Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.

Guest Editors
Dr. Aymen Sajjad (School of Management, Massey University, New Zealand)
[email protected]

Dr. Masahiro Hosoda (School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Ibaraki University, Japan)
[email protected]

Hitomi Toyosaki (Research Fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Graduate School of Business Administration, Meiji University, Japan)
[email protected]