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Abstract

Management control systems are viewed typically as management-by-exception tools for implementing intended strategies. This study provides a different perspective by focusing on the way that top managers use specific control systems to focus organizational attention on strategic uncertainties and thereby guide the development of new strategic initiatives. Analysis of field-based data from 30 businesses in the U.S. health care products industry is used to develop a model and propositions that distinguish between interactive and diagnostic control systems, and illustrate the selective use of these systems in different strategic contexts.