Planning and Control systems – Course Description

Planning and Control systems – Course Description

Course 1: Planning and Control systems

1. Course Description

Introduction to the principles of Planning and Control systems in a “learning-oriented” perspective through the use of the system dynamics methodology.

Level: graduate; 10 ECTS points. The course is conducted entirely in English.

2. Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

Students know about the fundamentals of designing planning & control (P&C) systems to support the steering and management processes of different organisations.

They gain a systemic and design-oriented view of P&C. They are also able to position SD models into the wider P&C system of an organisation.

They also learn to analyse and diagnose business solvency and profitability, and to draw up ‘dynamic’ business plans.

Applying knowledge and understanding

The students will engage in real life case-study analyses that will be conducted with reference to both the public and the private sectors, in which they will apply their knowledge and understanding acquired from the field of Planning and Control facilitated through the use of system dynamics. These applications will extend into the courses P2 (“System Dynamics for Business Strategy”), P3 (Planning, Policy Design and Management in the Public Sector”), and P4. (“System Dynamics Models for Planning, Policy Design, and Management in the Public Sector”).

Making judgements

Students should be able to reflect on the method to use while adopting planning and control systems as a viable means to foster empowerment, accountability, communication and learning, particularly in organisations operating in a complex and dynamic environment.


Students will present and discuss relevant literature as well as the result of their case studies in class.

Learning skills

Students will acquire skills that are required for self-studies of the literature on the subject and to investigate the relationship between Planning and Control and systems performance.

3. Course Content

The course is divided into three parts:

  1. Principles and techniques for P&C Systems Design;
    • Planning & Control as a System;
    • Different levels of control
    • Levers of control – Organizational control
    • Defining performance – Outlining goals objectives and performance indicators.
    • Linking objectives & performance indicators to strategic resources, policy levers, responsibility areas, and management processes
    • Designing P&C systems: Common errors
  2.  Tools for business solvency & profitability analysis
    • Financial analysis: ratios
    • Profitability& Patrimonial ‘solidity’ analysis
    • Financial analysis:flows
    • Assessing solvency profitability and patrimonial “solidity” in relation to growth.
    • Cost analysis
    • Contribution margin analysis
  3. Dynamic Business Planning
    • Outlining the business idea. Identifying the product, Strategic Business Areas, Customer, Exploring the competitive system.
    • Mapping processes related to different business sub-systems. Defining product price
    • Identifying cost drivers and standards
    • Drawing up a financial business plan
    • Moving from a static to a system dynamic business plan.

4. Course Design

The course is comprised of lectures, seminars, group discussions, students’ presentations, and individual assignments/papers. An overall attendance rate of 80% in scheduled sessions is required, and attendance is mandatory in the group discussions, students’ presentations, and seminars, and active participation is required in those sessions.

5. Student’s Evaluation

Assessment is carried out by using the following criteria:
– Individual/group assignment/s (students could receive one or more assignment/s during the course to be completed during classes or at home in a given time). This criteria has a 30% weigh on the final course mark.
– Final course essay. This criteria has a 40% weigh on the final course mark.

For a passing grade the student must (a) have passed marks on all the assignments; (b) have participated in the mandatory sessions; (c) have an adequate overall attendance rate.

Project work evaluation conducted during all semester (e.g., outcomes, modeling, interaction with the organization). As the project work will be carried out during the semester, this 30% evaluation will be added to all 4 courses marks.

An ECTS grade is provided to the student at the end of the course according to the A, F scale. Students not successfully fulfilling all the course requirements within the regular time frame have the option of reaching agreement with the course director of studies on how to complete the course requirements in a timely manner.

6. Course Admission Requirements

The course requires a Bachelor’s degree in any subject. The course is open to students enrolled in the Erasmus Mundus master program.

7. Literature

Abraham Carmeli and Ashler Tishler, 2004, The Relationships Between Intangible Organizational Elements And Organizational Performance, Strat. Mgmt. J., 25: 1257–1278

Anthony et al., Fundamentals of management accounting, Irwin, 1985, chapter 15.

Bianchi C. 2002. Introducing SD modelling into planning and control systems to manage SMEs’ growth: a learning oriented perspective, System Dynamics Review, Vol. 18, No. 3: 315–338

Bianchi C. 2012. Enhancing Performance Management and Sustainable Organizational Growth Through System-Dynamics Modelling. Systemic Management for Intelligent Organizations, pp 143-161

Bianchi C., Bivona E. 2005. Overcoming Myopic Behaviour in Intellectual Capital Investments in service businesses through Interactive Learning Environments based on System Dynamics and Accounting Models, 3rd CONFERENCE ON PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT AND MANAGEMENT CONTROL Nice, September 22- 23, 2005

Curral S.C., & Epstein M.J. 2003, The Fragility of Organizational Trust: Lessons from the Rise and Fall of Enron, Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 32 (2): 193-206

Earl K. Stice, James Stice, Michael Diamond, 2001, Financial Accounting: Reporting and Analysis, SouthWestern College Pub; 6 edition, Chapter 1 (Financial Accounting and Its Environment), Chapter 2 (Basic Concepts of Financial Accounting), Chapter 3 (The Income Statement), Chapter 4 (The Balance Sheet), Chapter 5 (Statement of Cash Flows), chapter 11 (A framework for financial statements analysis), Appendix (Preparing a Statement of Cash Flows)

Ferreira A., Otley D., 2009, The Design and Use of Performance Management Systems: An Extended Framework for Analysis, Management Accounting Research, n. 20, pagg. 263-282.

Finding Meaning in Financial Statements: A Look behind the Numbers, Excerpted from Finance for Managers, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, Massachusetts, Publication date: Dec 04, 2002.

Holzer H.P. and Norreklit H., 1991, Management Accounting and Control Systems, Tijdschrift voor Economie en Management, Vol. XXXVI, 3

Maciariello, Management Control Systems, PrenticeHall, Englewood Cliffs, (1984), chapter 1.