Investigating the Impact of Agile Control Mechanisms on Learning in Scrum Teams

  • Maria Carmela Annosi
  • Antonella Martini
  • Mats Magnusson


This chapter aims to explore Management Control Systems (MCS) resulting from the implementation of agile development methods, relying on an established MCS taxonomy. An abductive approach was adopted, considering the shortage of research evaluating the post-adoption effects of agile methods. Four organizations from an international telecommunication firm that implemented agile methods were involved, and 44 individual semi-structured interviews were performed. In addition, 121 free comments from a global survey to the same organizations were used as secondary data. The paper indicates how Scrum, a widespread agile method, implicitly brings multiple enforcing levers of control to a team’s self-regulatory learning processes.


  1. Akella, D. (2007). Learning organizations managerial control systems? Global Business Review, 8(1), 13–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anthony, R. N., Dearden, J., & Bedford, N. M. (1984), Management control systems. McGraw-Hill/Irwin.Google Scholar
  3. Chiang, Y. H., & Hung, K. P. (2014). Team control mode, workers’ creativity, and new product innovativeness. R&D Management, 44(2), 124–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cohen, S. G., & Bailey, D. E. (1997). What makes teams work: Group effectiveness research from the shop floor to the executive suite. Journal of Management, 23(3), 239–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cohn, M. (2009). Succeeding with agile: Software development using Scrum. Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  6. Draucker, C. B., Martsolf, D. S., Ross, R., & Rusk, T. B. (2007). Theoretical sampling and category development in grounded theory. Qualitative Health Research, 17(8), 1137–1148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dybå, T., & Dingsøyr, T. (2008). Empirical studies of agile software development: A systematic review. Information and Software Technology, 50(9), 833–859.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gibson, C. B., & Birkinshaw, J. (2004). The antecedents, consequences and mediating role of organizational ambidexterity. Academy of Management Journal, 47(2), 209–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Glaser, B. G. (1998). Doing grounded theory: Issues and discussions. Sociology Press: Mill Valley.Google Scholar
  10. Hopwood, A. G. (1976). Accounting and human behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  11. Kerssen-van Drongelen, I. C., & Bilderbeek, J. (1999). R&D performance measurement: More than choosing a set of metrics. R&D Management, 29(1), 35–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Langfield-Smith, K. (1997). Management control systems and strategy: A critical review. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 22(2), 207–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. McCarthy, I. P., & Gordon, B. R. (2011). Achieving contextual ambidexterity in R&D organizations: A management control system approach. R&D Management, 41(3), 240–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Merchant, K. (1985). Control in business organizations. Boston: Pitman.Google Scholar
  15. Moe, N. B., & Dingsøyr, T. (2008). Scrum and team effectiveness: Theory and practice. In Agile processes in software engineering and extreme programming (pp. 11–20). Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  16. Otley, D. T., & Berry, A. J. (1994). Case study research in management accounting and control. Management Accounting Research, 5(1), 45–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ouchi, W. G. (1977). The relationship between organizational structure and organizational control. Administrative Science Quarterly, 22(1), 95–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ouchi, W. G. (1979). A conceptual framework for the design of organizational control mechanisms. Management Science, 25, 833–848.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Patton, M. Q. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods. Newsbury Park, London: Sage Publication, Inc., New Dehli.Google Scholar
  20. Peirce, C. (1931). Collected papers. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Pikkarainen, M., Haikara, J., Salo, O., Abrahamsson, P., & Still, J. (2008). The impact of agile practices on communication in software development. Empirical Software Engineering, 13(3), 303–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Schatzman, L., & Strauss, A. L. (1973). Field research: Strategies for a natural sociology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  23. Schwaber, K. (1997). Scrum development process. In Business object design and implementation (pp. 117–134). London: Springer.Google Scholar
  24. Schwaber, K., Beedle, M., & Martin, R. C. (2002). Agile development with Scrum. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  25. Simons, R. (1987). Accounting control systems and business strategy: An empirical analysis. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 12(4), 357–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Simons, R. (1994). How new top managers use control systems as levers of strategic renewal. Strategic Management Journal, 15(3), 169–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Simons, R. (1995). Levers of control. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Carmela Annosi
    • 1
  • Antonella Martini
    • 2
  • Mats Magnusson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Social Sciences and Management StudiesWageningen University and ResearchWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.School of Engineering (DESTEC)University of PisaPisaItaly
  3. 3.KTH Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations