Control versus Controls


In the normal course, controls are conceived as plural of control. But this is a misconception. As ‘rent’ in economics has a different meaning, so is the term ‘controls’ having a surprisingly different meaning in management and organizational behavior literature. In management, controls means measurements, whereas controlling is a process of gathering and feeding back information about performance so that decision makers can compare actual results with planned results and decide what to do about any apparent discrepancies or problems.

Peter F. Druker, a well-known authority on management, brings out the distinction between the term ‘control’ and ‘controls’, in the following fashion :

(i)                 Controls refer to measurement and information whereas control is related to ‘direction’.

(ii)               Controls pertain to means and control pertains to an end.

(iii)             Controls deal with facts and with the events of the past; control on the other hand, deals with expectations, i.e. with future.

(iv)             Controls are analytical and concerned with what was and what is. Control is normative and concerned with ought to be.

Thus controls are means to an end, ‘end’ being control.