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Date of Award


Access Type

Campus Access

Document type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

D. Anthony Butterfield

Second Advisor

Jane Giacobbe-Miller

Third Advisor

Mzamo P. Mangaliso

Subject Categories

Applied Behavior Analysis | Asian Studies | Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Organizational Behavior and Theory


Control in organizations has drawn attention from those seeking to achieve greater efficiencies and productivity in organizations as well as from those skeptical and critical of organizational practices of control. However, despite the conflicting interests, both bodies of research acknowledge that control is fundamental to organizing and both see managers as 'agents of control', i.e., individuals in organizations who are vested with varying degrees of authority to achieve control. But neither has yet examined control from the perspective of these `agents of control' to provide an understanding of how managers construe control, their attitudes and preferences towards varying aspects of control. To address that gap in the existing literature on organization control, this dissertation examines managerial conceptions of control in organizations.

This study used Q-methodology, a research method that uses both quantitative and qualitative techniques to study human subjectivity. In the first phase of the study, fifteen participants from the US and fifteen participants from India were interviewed. In the second phase of this study, a Q-sort was developed from these interviews and from secondary literature. Fifteen participants from the US and fifteen participants from India sorted these Q-sorts online. The sorts were then factor analyzed.

The resulting five factors were interpreted as five conceptions of control that were labeled as Autocratic, Bureaucratic, Technocratic, Sociocratic and Democratic perspectives of control. The autocratic perspective of control is characterized by the Theory X assumptions and the classic command and control worldview - "you do as I tell you to do". Lack of trust, close supervision of subordinates and personal power and authority marks this perspective of control. In the bureaucratic perspective of control, the center of control shifts from the individual to the organization and the means of control become more formal. The technocratic perspective takes a cybernetic-like technical approach to control in which the organizational framework, founded on rational rules and policies, is held supreme and everyone in the organization is seen as subordinated to that framework. Formal means of control are preferred, and having technical skills are held as important as having people skills for a manager to achieve control at the workplace. The sociocratic perspective too holds organizational framework as important but does not completely subordinate individuals to that framework; it leaves room for individual discretion and personal values in decision making. It relies on the organizational framework to gain legitimate authority but relies on social informal means to achieve control. The democratic perspective is relationship oriented, is skeptical regarding the effectiveness of formal means of control such as hierarchy and organizational policies, accords greater importance to relationships and trust, and relies on a more participative style of governance.