An Extended Model of is Project Control


The IS project control literature has been dominated by the situational view of control, which suggests that situational factors such as visibility of outcomes identify appropriate controls to employ. However, the management literature has two alternate views of control, (1) balancing, and (2) more controls. The balancing view suggests that management's focus is establishing and maintaining a healthy balance between formal (behavior and outcome) and informal (clan and self) controls. The more controls view suggests that an increase in overall control improves project performance. We first argue that the balancing and more controls views suggest additional insights to IS project control. We then employ indifference curve theory to integrate and unify these three views. The situational view is modeled as changes in the bundle of controls determined by differences in their relative costs. The balancing view is modeled as income and substitution effects to a portfolio of controls. Finally, the more controls view is represented as a shift to a higher "project control indifference curve." Additional insights from our model applicable to each view are also presented. Specifically, for the situational view, we demonstrate that the indifference curve concepts of substitutability and complementarity explain the presence of all control modes in portfolios of control. The core concepts of cost and preference and the ancillary concepts of necessities, and luxuries explain differences in the relative proportion of formal and informal controls in the balancing view. Finally, the ability to empirically measure indifference curves facilitates prediction in the more controls view.

Meeting Name

65th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, AOM 2005 (2005: Aug. 5-10, Honolulu, HI)


Business and Information Technology

Keywords and Phrases

Control; Indifference curves; IS projects

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2005 Academy of Management (AOM), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2005

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