Controlling Social Sustainability –a study of the relation between motivations for social sustainability and management control systems in the real estate sector

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Abstract: There is a growing consensus that sustainability must be part of future activities. Previous research indicates that the use of management control systems can push organisations in the direction of sustainability. However, little is known about a firm’s motivation for engaging in this area and its use of management control to operationalise a sustainability objective. Additionally, there is an absence of research that focuses on the social aspect of sustainability. Following that, the aim of this study is to increase the knowledge about how organisations choose to design and use their management control system in order to operationalise their social sustainability objectives. Additionally, this study seeks to examine if there is a relation between, on the one hand, motivations to work with social sustainability and the design and, on the other, motivations to work with social sustainability and the use of management control systems. Six semi-structured interviews have been conducted with five different organisations in the real estate sector. The empirical findings have been structured by the use of a theoretical framework, which also served as a tool to find patterns. The study concludes that first, there is a wide range of management control systems used to operationalise social sustainability objectives. Second, there is a slight relation between the motives and the design of the management control systems, in particular the one between the motive for avoidance of economic losses and the presence of technical control instruments. Last, there is a minor relation between the motivations and the use of the management control systems. For the motive avoidance of social losses, the data indicate that fewer systems are used, in comparison to other motivations where all the levers are represented.

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