Differences between control and controlling

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Differences between control and controlling
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Differences between control and controlling are huge, but most people identify these two concepts with each other. The reason for this is the fact that the concept of controlling, in the first years of its existence, was only understood in sense of control. It is necessary to remember, that the concept of controlling is broader than control. Moreover, the control is one of the components of controlling and is oriented on the past (controlling is future-oriented)[1].

Reasons of confusing these two concepts

It is possible to point out two basic reasons of identification the controlling with control[2]:

  1. The definition and the role of controlling in organizations have been changing for years. At the beginning of existence, the controlling was identified with a function of control. Those days, the controlling cells dealt only with past data, which helped to control the reality and current financial situation of the companies. However, with the development of enterprises, the concept of controlling was developing too. Today, controlling has lots of other significant functions, except the control. Unfortunately, people still identify this concept with its first function.
  2. The second reason for confusing control with controlling is usually associating these two words by people. Because of the fact, the word "controlling" is derived from "control", it may seem that they are meaning the same.

Main differences

In order to properly understand the definition of control and controlling, basic differences between these concepts should be indicated[3][4]:

Control (Oriented on the past) Controlling (Future-oriented)
  • it finds errors in past activities and decisions,
  • proposes fixes,
  • looks for the guilty in staff, unreasonable activities, bad decisions,
  • proposes changes in personnel,
  • proposes organizational changes,
  • it is oriented to goals,
  • it refers to process,
  • it relates to a lack of goal congruence,
  • it must be able to motivate people to take actions and make decisions,
  • it must provide information about the results of operations and people's performance,
  • it coordinates processes,
  • it monitors deviations from the plan and forecast,
  • it advises how to solve current problems,
  • it proposes solutions, which will improve the situation of the organization in the future,
  • it proposes measures of the enterprise's developing,
  • inspires to action
  • it uses tools, which help to avoid the business risks in the future,


  • Bragg S.M. (2005), Controller's Guide to Planning and Controlling Operations, John Wiley & Sons, USA.
  • Broadbent J., Laughlin R. (2013), Accounting Control and Controlling Accounting: Interdisciplinary and Critical Perspectives, Emerald Group Publishing, UK.
  • Flamholtz E.G. (2012), Effective Management Control: Theory and Practice, Springer Science & Business Media, USA.
  • Havlíček K., Thalassinos E., Berezkinova L. (2013), Innovation Management and Controlling in SMEs , "European Research Studies", vol. 16.
  • Horváth & Partner (2019), The Controlling Concept: Cornerstone of Performance Management, Vahlen, München.
  • Laval H. (2018), How to Increase the Value-added of Controlling: A Guide to an Efficient and Sustainable Management Support, Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG, Berlin.
  • Reichmann T. (2012), Controlling: Concepts of Management Control, Controllership, and Ratios, Springer, Germany.
  • Sadiq S., Governatori G., Naimiri K. (2007), Modeling Control Objectives for Business Process Compliance, Springer-Verlag.
  • Schiefer J., Seufert A. (2005), Management and Controlling of Time-Sensitive Business Processes with Sense & Respond, "Conference Paper".


  1. Horváth & Partner (2019), p.6
  2. Reichmann T. (2012), p.3
  3. Flamholtz E.G. (2012), p.2
  4. Laval H. (2018), p.27

Author: Milena Kurczek