Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into how individuals perceive a management information and control milieu and how these perceptions influence the control practices.
Design/methodology/approach – By applying the concept of role, we highlight alternative aspects of management information and control practices found in two public sector organisations; aspects that are often obscured in the traditional literature.
Findings – Contrary to the formalised, depersonalised and top-down inspired practices often found in the management control literature, our findings indicate that bottom-up forces play an important role in the management landscape, that some key individuals serve to reinforce information flows and articulate expectations, and that signals can be faint yet still govern behaviour.
Research limitations/implications – The paper is intended to inspire further research into how structural and individual aspects of management control operate together. The empirical content, representing two organisations only, limits the strength of the conclusions.
Originality/value - Our findings add to the conventional understanding of management control, and the term governance ecology appears illustrative of the interplay among managers, information systems and other actors.
Management control; management information; information behaviour; governance; role theory