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The Underpinnings of ‘Bureaucratic’ Control Systems: HRM in European Multinationals



This paper explores the relationship between the operation of management control systems and the mobilization of power resources in multinational companies. It argues that formal ‘bureaucratic’ controls depend for their effective operation on informal systems and the power relations they embody. In particular, bureaucratic control systems rely inherently on the deployment of ‘social’ control mechanisms relating to the creation of common value systems, understandings, and expectations about the ‘rules of the game’ among corporate actors. The argument is illustrated by material from case studies of HRM in British and German multinationals.