Globalization discourses and performance measurement systems in a multinational firm

Cooper, David J and Ezzamel, Mahmoud (2013) Globalization discourses and performance measurement systems in a multinational firm. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 38 (4). pp. 288-313. ISSN 0361-3682 (

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This paper examines the role of management control systems, in particular performance measurement systems (PMSs) such as the Balanced Scorecard and key performance indicators, in a multinational context. We begin by exploring how globalization discourses are engaged with, consumed, appropriated, re-produced, disseminated and promoted in a major multinational company. We link the adaptation and dissemination of global discourses of senior managers with Said’s (1975/1997) concepts of authority and molestation. We then examine how PMS are translated and customized within local manufacturing plants and sales units in the UK and China, the significance of benchmarking and the extent to which PMS render managerial discourses of globalization practical. We comment on the importance of discourse in understanding control systems in general and the way in which external discourses impact the internal practices of the organization. We also explore some of the sources that give rise to molestation (deviation of practice from global aspirations of senior managers). We conclude by stressing the potential for the globalizing effects of PMS through the interaction of the discourses of HQ and subunits, even in the absence of explicit statements about globalization.