The control function of management can be a critical determinant of organizational success. Most authors discuss control only through feedback and adjustment processes. This article takes a broader perspective on control and discusses the following questions: What is good control? Why are controls needed? How can good control be achieved? If multiple control strategies are feasible, how should the choice among them be made?
1. See H. Koontz, C. O'Donnell, and H. Weihrich. Management, 7th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1980). p. 722.
2. See W. D. Brinckloe and M. T. Coughlin, Managing Organizations (Encino, CA: Glencoe Press. 1977). p. 298.
3. See P. F. Drucker. Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices (New York: Harper & Row. 1974). p. 497.
4. A recent summary of many of the findings in this area (illustrating such cognitive limitations as conservative revision of prior subjective probabilities when new information is provided. and the use of simplifying decision-making heuristics when faced with complex problems) is provided by W. F. Wright, “Cognitive Information Processing Biases: Implications for Producers and Users of Financial Information,” Decision Sciences (April 1980): 284–298.
5. A similar scheme is presented in W. G. Ouchi, “A Conceptual Framework for the Design of Organizational Control Mechanisms,” Management Science (September 1979): 833–848.
6. See H. Klein, “At Harley-Davidson, Life without AMF Is Upbeat but Full of Financial Problems,” Wall Street Journal. 13 April 1982, p. 37.
7. See N. Babchukand W. J. Goode. “Work Incentives in a Self-Determined Group,” American Sociological Review (1951): 679–687.
8. For a summary of criticisms of return-an-investment (ROI) measures of performance, see J. Dearden, “The Case against ROI Control,” Harvard Business Review, May–June 1969, pp. 124–135.
9. See D. Mitchell. Control without Bureaucracy (London: McGraw-Hill Book Company Limited, 1979), p. 6.
The author wishes to acknowledge Robert N. Anthony, Peter Brownell, and Martha S. Hayes for their helpful comments.