From the study of managerial function of controlling, certain principles (truths) have been implied. These truths may be similar to truths in other areas management and they summarise the nature and purpose of control. State and discuss these principles


  1. Principle of purpose of control:

The task of control is to ensure that plans succeed by detecting deviations from plans and furnishing a basis for taking action to correct potential or actual undesired deviations.

  1. Principle of future directed controls:

Owing to the time lags in the total system of control, the more a control system is based on feed forward rather than simple feedback of information, the more managers have the opportunity to perceive undesirable deviations from plans before they occur and to take action in time to prevent them.

  • Principle of control responsibility:

The primary responsibility for the exercise of control rests in the manager charged  with performance of the particular plans involved. Since delegation of authority, assignment of tasks, and responsibility for certain objectives rest in individual managers, it follows that control over this work should be exercised by each of these


managers. An individual manager’s responsibility cannot be waived or rescinded without changes in the organization structure.

  1. Principle of efficiency of controls:

Control techniques and approaches are efficient if they detect and illuminate the nature and causes of deviations from plans with a minimum of costs or other unsought consequences.

Control techniques have a way of becoming costly, complex and burdensome. Managers may become so engrossed in control that they spend more than it is worth to detect a deviation. Detailed budget controls that hamstring a subordinate, complex mathematical controls that thwart innovation and purchasing controls that delay deliveries and cost more than the item purchased are examples of inefficient controls.

  1. Principle of indirect controls/preventive control:

The higher the quality of managers in a managerial system, the less will be the need for direct controls. Most controls are based in large part of the fact that human beings make mistakes and often do not react to problems by undertaking their correction adequately and promptly. The more qualified managers are, the more likely they will perceive deviations from plans and take timely action to prevent them.

  1. Principle of reflection of plans:

The more that plans are clear, complete, and integrated, and the more that controls are designed reflect such plans, the more effectively controls will serve the needs of managers. It is not possible for a system of controls to be devised without plans, since the task of control is to ensure that plans work out as intended. There can be no doubt that the more clear, complete and integrated these plans are, and the more that control techniques are designed to follow the progress of these plans, the more effective the controls will be.

  • Principle of organizational suitability:

The more that an organization structure is clear, complete and integrated, and the more that controls are designed to reflect the place in the organization structure where responsibility for action lies, the more the controls will facilitate correction of deviations from plans.

Plans are implemented by people. Deviation from plans must be the responsibility primarily of managers who are entrusted with the task of executing planning programs. Since it is the function of an organization structure to define a system of roles it follows that controls must be designed to affect the role in which responsibility for performance of a plan lies.

  • Principle of Standards:

Effective control requires objective, accurate, and suitable standards. There should be a simple, specific and verifiable way to measure whether a planning program is being accomplished. Control is accomplished through people. Even the best manager cannot help being influenced by personal factors, and actual performance is sometimes camouflaged by a dull or sparkling personality or by a subordinate’ ability to “sell” a deficient performance. Good standards of performance, objectively applied, will more likely be accepted by subordinates as fair and reasonable.

  1. Principle of critical point control:

Effective control requires special attention to those factors critical to evaluating performance against plans.

It would ordinarily be wasteful and unnecessary for managers to follow every detail of plan execution. What they must know is that plans are being implemented. Therefore, they concentrate attention on salient factors of performance that will indicate any important deviations from plans. Perhaps all managers can ask themselves what  things in their operations will best show them whether the plans for which they are responsible are being accomplished.

  1. Principle of flexibility of controls:

If controls are to remain effective despite failure or unforeseen changes of plans, flexibility is required in their design.



According to this principle, controls must not be so inflexibly tied in with a plan as to be useless if the entire plan fails or is suddenly changed. Note that this principle applies to failures of plans, not failures of people operating under plans.

  1. The exception principle:

The more that managers concentrate control efforts on significant exceptions, the more efficient will be the results of their control.

This principle holds that managers should concern themselves with significant deviations-the especially good or the especially bad situations. It is often confused with the principle of critical point control and the two do have some kinship. However, critical point control has to do with recognizing the points to be watched, while the exception principle has to do with watching the size of the deviations at these points.

  • Principle of action:

Control is justified only if indicated or experienced deviations from plans are corrected through appropriate planning, organizing, staffing, and leading. There are instances in practice in which simple truth is forgotten. Control is a wasteful use of managerial and staff time unless it is followed by action. If deviations are found in experienced or projected performance, action is indicated, in the form of either redrawing plans or making additional plans to get back on course. The situation may call for reorganization. It may require replacing subordinates or training them to do the task desired or it may indicate that the fault is a lack of direction and leadership in getting a subordinate to understand the plans or in motivating him to accomplish them. In any case, action is implied.

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