Influences on the cross-cultural transferability of management control systems : the case of major Taiwanese information technology multinationals
This study attempts to explore how national culture, leaders' financial control factors, and other situational factors affect the transference of management control systems (MCSs) within MNCs. If national cultural factors are important, then a "fitting" policy may be better than a "shared" policy and the corporation would take into account the host national culture and so adjust its MCSs in foreign operations. However, if a firm's leader keeps tight financial control, then a "shared" policy may be maintained and its headquarters can more easily transfer its system to its foreign operations. In addition, some situational factors of the overseas operation could affect the transference of MCSs from headquarters. This study not only controls for some contingencies but also carefully selects relevant situational factors to observe the relationship between MCS transfer and those contingencies. This research uses the comparative case study method with a qualitative approach to explore the relationships of MCS transfer and national culture, leaders' financial control factors and other situational factors. In particular, the study strongly emphasises the elements of national culture and financial control factors. For achieving the research purposes, four main propositions in the research are explored. Using Hofstede's cultural dimensions, the first proposition compares the MCSs of Taiwanese and European operations of four Taiwanese case firms. However, only five out of the ten components of MCSs are shown to be influenced by cultural factors. Within a MNC, national culture may often be imbedded in relevant contingencies. The second proposition representing the relationships between national culture and leaders' financial control factors was also examined, but these relationships were not found to be strong in this research. A leaders' financial control style is based on operating philosophy representing special management values. The third proposition, the relationship between leaders' financial control style and the transference of MCSs, showed a strong relationship. Overall, except for the rewarding process, the leaders' financial control factors had obvious impacts on the transference of MCSs. Four situational factors including size, age, approach to acquisition, and business focus of European operations were observed in the research. The fourth proposition assesses whether these factors will significantly affect the transference of MCSs from Taiwanese operations to European operations. The results show that significant impacts from the factors of size and business focus exist. The main conclusions from the research are, firstly, that the higher the degree of the leaders' financial control in a MNC, the more the MCSs were transferred to overseas operations, and vice versa. Secondly, the higher the degree of financial control in one MNC, the lower the impact of MCS design from host cultural factors, and vice versa. Finally, the more favourable the situational environment in a firm's overseas operation, the more the MCSs could be transferred to the operation.