Integrated Thinking and Acting – An opinion paper by the University of St. Gallen and PwC Switzerland

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Integrated management control in the context of modern performance management systems

Financial performance is of vital importance to the senior management of a company. Non-financial performance, however, often lurks in the shadows and is relegated to specialised departments such as the accounting department, or treated as a separate part of sustainability. The results of our survey show that such an approach is counterproductive. Senior managers interested in long-term value creation and success must take into consideration the concerns of their company’s various stakeholders, and identify financial as well as non-financial value drivers. Long-term value creation and success not only depend on the identification of key value drivers, but also, in particular, on the establishment of a performance management system that allows for controlling these drivers. The results of our survey show that there is an expectation gap in this context.

The message is clear: the more intensively senior management is involved in the modification of a performance management system, the greater its acceptance and usefulness for decision-making. Higher decision quality, in turn, is positively linked to performance. Senior management members should therefore ask themselves how they can take into account (and manage) all the key aspects, of both a financial and non-financial nature. Integrated thinking and acting create added value, counteract a silo mentality and render a separate sustainability department unnecessary: medium and long-term value creation is enabled by integrated thinking and acting. A strategic commitment is required from management so that key aspects are linked to strategy and not outsourced to operational units.

We are pleased to be able to share the main findings of the survey based on a questionnaire that was designed and distributed by PwC in association with the professors of the Accounting department at the Institute for Public Finance, Fiscal Law and Law and Economics of the University of St. Gallen. The goal of the St. Gallen researchers (led by Prof. Dr. Thomas Berndt and Tobias Müller) and the PwC team (under the direction of Peter Eberli and Stephan Hirschi) was to gain valuable insights into the organisation of performance management systems and the external stakeholder management of the participants, and to draw conclusions from the information that was gathered.

As senior managers (from CEOs to heads of risk management) from a variety of different fields and a wide range of companies took part in the survey, we consider the survey for companies in Switzerland to be meaningful. Firms from the financial sector had the largest voice, with over 40% of the participants coming from this field.

This publication is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of our findings, which are divided into the following sections:

  1. Private standard setters and regulation
  2. Performance management systems
  3. Relationship between financial and non-financial performance
  4. Importance of modern performance management systems
  5. Usefulness of standards and frameworks
  6. Success through integrated thinking and acting


Read the paper


Peter Eberli
Assurance Partner
Technical Accountant Leader IFRS 17
Office: +41 58 792 28 38

Stephan Hirschi
Advisory Director
Office: +41 58 792 2789

Raphael Rutishauser
Assurance & Advisory Senior Manager
Office: +41 58 792 5215