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Many users of management control systems claim that a system’s effectiveness in creating business performance resides in its ability to facilitate learning and decision making. Yet this does not explain why users of management control systems have varying levels of success in terms of business performance with these tools. Our IMA-sponsored research project1 examines the following questions that relate management control system use, learning, and performance:

• How are management control systems used?

• How do organizations learn from management control systems?

• What uses of management control systems and styles of learning characterize high performing firms?

To answer these questions, we examine a set of management control systems that are in existence today: business intelligence systems. Business intelligence systems are computerized systems that identify, extract, and analyze business data (e.g., sales revenue by product and/or department and/or location). They facilitate learning and support decision making through the provision of various types of information. We examine three popular types of business intelligence systems and how they are used to facilitate learning in firms. The three types are: (1) dashboards and visualization, (2) query, analysis, and reporting, and (3) data management and data quality. We developed a survey to collect data that would help answer our questions.

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This document was originally published by IMA (Institute of Management Accountants). Copyright restrictions may apply.

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