Management control system and ERPs in Italian healthcare organizations

Luca Del Bene - , Attilio Mucelli - , Francesca Spigarelli -


The paper analyses the impact that Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have on the development of management control systems, in Italian healthcare organizations. Some recent studies demonstrate that ERP systems are having a relatively limited influence on management control systems, in industrial enterprises (Fahy and Lynch, 1999; Maccarone, 2000; Granlund and Malmi, 2002), despite the initial euphoria for them (Davenport, 1998; Mucelli, 2000). The evidences are not so clear, at the moment.The starting point of the analysis is the result of a previous research project, carried out in 2002 (Mucelli and Spigarelli, 2003). Through an empirical study (on the universe of Italian healthcare organizations), 82 organizations were examined (answered to our questionnaire). We were able to verify the diffusion of ERP systems as well as the level of satisfaction of their managers on the quality and timeliness of the information produced by their management accounting systems. We found that 16 organizations had implemented an ERP system.After two years from the first analysis, we want to test the real role that ERP systems have had for the development of management control systems in those 16 organizations. In particular, we focus on the consequences that the implementation of ERP systems have had on information features, as well as on the management decision making process (Poston and Grabski, 2001) and on accountants activities (Grandlund and Malmi, 2002). As for methodology, the research is mainly based on a questionnaire, directly delivered to the 16 healthcare organizations that had already implemented an ERP two years ago. The questionnaire focuses on the following topics:- the implementation of an ERP can have some influence on the development of management control systems. ERPs can create opportunities, but even bonds in some cases, for the changes in management control structure and instruments (Granlund and Mouritsen, 2003; Scapens and Jazayeri, 2003);- the implementation of an ERP can improve the performance of the “measurement system”, i.e. its ability to monitor not only financial aspects but also technical (medical) performance of healthcare organizations;- the impact of an ERP on the organizational structure could be wide, especially in healthcare. ERPs might bring to a higher integration between the administrative and the medical areas, thus increasing the level of participation of all the employees. Moreover, they are supposed to support the management decision process and to improve the planning and control activities (Buccoliero, 1998);- the design of the ERP system is only a part of the implementation process (Preston et al., 1992). To achieve a successfully implementation, managing change is a crucial issue. Some technical and organizational obstacles may arise and cause the failure of the ERP implementation;- the adoption of an ERP challenges the definition of the expertise and roles of accountants within organizations, leading to new hybrid positions (Caglio, 2003).

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Registered by the Cancelleria del Tribunale di Pavia N. 685/2007 R.S.P. – electronic ISSN 2038-5498


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