Hoogovens Steel is a vertically integrated steel company, which until 1995 was functionally structured. During the 1980s the steel market became saturated and more heterogeneous. In order to remain a flexible, market-oriented company, HS changed its organizational structure, introducing business units responsible for their own financial results. Questions were then raised about the cost-based transfer pricing system which was in use, and in particular its impact on performance measurement. A business unit structure implies a decentralization of authority and the delegation of certain activities to the units, but vertically integrated production requires close relations between all the units involved in various stages of production. This paper discusses the way in which the tensions between decentralization and integration were resolved through the co-ordination of internal transactions. After introducing some relevant theoretical concepts, the issues which emerged in discussions about the co-ordination of internal transactions in HS are examined. This longitudinal case study demonstrates that issues of transfer pricing cannot be studied independently of the broader systems used to co-ordinate internal transactions, and that such systems are embedded in the linkages between the organizational structure and management control systems. Furthermore, it emphasizes that systems for the co-ordination of internal transactions have to be located within the organizational context and history, and that organizational learning can have an important impact on the development of such systems. © 2001 Academic Press.
- Internal transactions; transfer pricing; performance measurement; integrated production; Hoogovens Steel