Management control systems as a tool to rationalize the intelligence gathering in the front end of innovation

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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The objective of this study is to investigate how management control systems (MCS) are applied in the front end of innovation. Firstly, the focus will be to understand what kind of management controls, if any, are used in the front-end phase of innovation. Secondly, this study will clarify how these controls facilitate the intelligence gathering and the mobilization of the tacit knowledge that then leads to ideas and further to incremental innovations. The literature review explores the role of MCS in enhancing the organizational learning that can lead to innovation. Building on findings from prior research a framework for investigating MCS in the front-end phase is constructed. With the framework the application of different MCS is explored in a case organization. Additionally, the study explores the on-going debate related to the MCS in innovation paradigm. Findings demonstrate that the case organization applies MCS in order to enhance and rationalize the intelligence gathering process. Different informal and formal MCS are used to gain access to the local knowledge and to facilitate the knowledge sharing. Furthermore, the study underlines the role of MCS in helping the management to penetrate into operational detail and to the critical parts of business that affect the financial performance. In the case organization this is considered to positively affect the amount of novel ideas created as well as the relevance and quality of these ideas. Thus, the findings of this research give support to the view that application of MCS in the front-end phase can boost innovation.
Accounting, Management accounting, Control systems, Innovation, Front-end innovation, Tacit knowledge, Organizational learning
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