The paper’s general objective is to examine the relationship between the Covid-19 pandemic and management control systems. Specifically, the objectives are twofold: to verify whether and how management control systems supported firms’ choices during the health crisis; and whether and how the pandemic crisis affected firms’ management control systems. We used a multiple case study methodology based on semi-structured interviews with seven controllers of Italian companies, interpreting our results in the light of the institutional theory and the contingency theory. The pandemic was a sui generis contingency factor that scholars had not yet concretely taken into consideration in the research field of management control systems’ design and change. In the examined case studies, the management control systems responded to the ongoing guidelines by promptly adapting to them. Furthermore, during the Covid-19 crisis some of the examined companies used their management control system as a tool to instill security and closeness, thereby legitimizing their decisions regarding their employees and the context to. Finally, based on the evidence that the examined case studies provide, we propose a matrix for interpreting the trajectories of the changes in firms’ management control systems.
Keywords: Covid-19, Management Control Systems, Contingency Theory, Institutional Theory, Legitimacy Theory