Theorizing Participatory Control Systems: an organizational control concept for enabling and guiding adaptivity in complex situations

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This paper presents a theoretical framework for a new concept of organizational control, that stimulates organizational change and adaptation. It introduces Participatory Control Systems (PCS) as a distinct type of control based on the complex adaptive system literature. These control systems are fundamentally different from the traditional notion of (management) control. Building on the notion of complex systems and the concept of social learning, PCS increase organizational adaptivity by enabling and facilitating social learning processes that may emerge to transformational change over time. To illustrate the PCS concept in practice, three examples are given in this paper. Moreover, some key implications for internal auditors and suggestions for future research are provided.