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13-04-2020 | Original Paper | Issue 4/2021

Journal of Business Ethics 4/2021

Designing Ethical Management Control: Overcoming the Harmful Effect of Management Control Systems on Job-Related Stress

Journal:
Journal of Business Ethics > Issue 4/2021
Authors:
Stefan Linder, Bernard Leca, Adrián Zicari, Veronica Casarin
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Abstract

Ethical aspects of management control systems (MCS) are attracting increasing attention among scholars and practitioners. Much of the work centers on their aims. We complement this scholarship by applying the ethical principle of “no harm,” i.e., non-maleficence, to examine how those aims are achieved. We illustrate this approach by exploring the effects of four MCS designs on job-related stress drawing on the differentiation of stress into two dimensions: a challenge (i.e., unproblematic and even desirable) and a threat dimension (i.e., dangerous; causing psychological strain). Results from a lagged field-survey with 471 managers and employees from the UK and the U.S. support key predictions and offer first insights into designing MCS based on a “no harm” ethics. Our study highlights the benefits of interdisciplinary research in business ethics and hopefully encourages more work on MCS from a perspective based on the non-maleficence principle.

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