Responsibility in action: expressions of values in a Swedish company

Gudrun Baldvinsdottir (Lead / Corresponding author), Inga-Lill Johansson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose – To illustrate and discuss how different types of responsibility values are mobilised in a Swedish international company. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is informed by a constructivist pragmatism framework. The part of the study related to the case site was inspired by an ethnographic research approach and involved intensive face-to-face observations over a period of two years. Data was collected at four main levels: external and internal documents, observation of project meetings, interviews with project members, and informal talks with organisation members. Findings – Possible conflicts of interest between human and business perspectives are exposed. Awareness of these interest-conflicts, however, facilitates a potential bridging of the two perspectives. Our findings suggest possible explanations as to why management control (MC) models work in practice. Although values pertaining to shareholder maximisation are given prominence in external communication, the internal MC model also emphasises the values considered necessary and desirable by professionals, such as confidence, commitment and respect. The study reveals that the way values are handled affects the responsibility taken by employees in everyday situations. By using the constructivist pragmatism framework, it becomes clear that values cause people to act, and not MC systems. Originality/value – Although many studies have described the shortcoming of MC models, few studies platform from the concept of responsibility. In this paper it is shown how accounting communicates values underpinning responsibility, and contributes towards explaining why certain types of MC models can be more successful than others.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)112-125
    Number of pages14
    JournalQualitative Research in Accounting & Management
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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