Hogeschool van Amsterdam

+FinanceLab

SMEs IN CONTROL WITH SOFT CONTROLS

Project

Project Many SMEs find it difficult to stay in control. Standard control mechanisms, such as procedures, rules and regulations, do not achieve the desired result. These can be summed up under the term hard controls. Additional control measures are needed to create a desirable culture focused on functioning well and with integrity, and where performance is optimal. We call these soft controls. Soft controls are control measures that intervene in or call upon the personal performance of employees. They include measures that influence motivation, integrity, inspiration and creativity. In other words, measures that influence behaviour and culture.

Much has been written of late on soft controls, and some research has been done, but the main focus was on larger companies and governmental institutions. Little is known about soft controls in the daily practice of SMEs. Nor are there any free instruments available that are particularly suitable for soft controls in SMEs.

Our project ‘SMEs in control with soft controls’ aims to supplement the available knowledge. We are also developing a soft control instrument (scan) to provide SMEs with

  • insight into the soft controls that they use;
  • insight into how they can improve working with soft controls;
  • tools for control measures to improve the organisation culture with its associated attitudes and behaviour.

The research project proceeds along various lines. Students carry out a survey in companies on management control and the planning and control cycle, with a particular focus on soft controls. They write an advisory report for the company with tips for the soft control scan.

This scan is tested and adjusted over an extended period of time to produce an optimally functioning tool. A literature study is carried out to enrich the teaching, and on which articles are written and symposia are held. Participating companies are kept informed on the latest developments and are invited to meetings on soft controls. The research is being carried out in collaboration with Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. This research is funded by SIA Raak.