The aim of this study is to contribute to an increased understanding of the demands that the operation’s character places on management control. The study’s point of departure is the assumption that management control must be adapted to the operation’s character in order to be able to support strategy implementation and the achievement of objectives (contingency theory). The study deals with the demands facing management control in social operations aimed at children and young people. It is carried out in a municipal context and focuses on four different operations: pre-school, compulsory school, upper secondary school and social services. The municipal social operations aimed at the target group children and young people involve a large number of different actors such as pre-school teachers, teachers, remedial teachers, recreation leaders, social workers and psychologists. In order to achieve an effective and defensible utilisation of the resources aimed at the target group it may seem inevitable that these actors have to work across the organisational boundaries. In reality, however, it is unusual that the operation is described from this perspective in management control. Instead, the increasingly clear definition of operation tasks and responsibilities that is being arrived at with business sector control models, e.g. management by objectives and economic accountability units, has become a common theme in the development of municipal management control. Social operations aimed at children and young people do, however, not easily lend themselves to comparisons with goods and/or services owing, inter alia, to the fact that, in the social operations case, it is the individual herself (the child, pupil or client) that is subject to development or transition. The study concludes that the operation’s character gives rise to demands that suggest that the operation should be viewed as a coherent whole in management control. The existing management control system mainly contributes to an understanding of and knowledge about separate parts of the operation. Separate operation parts and units are planned and reviewed from the perspective of their organisation, resources and performance. The management control system does not depict how the different parts of the operation relate to and influence each other. The study suggests that a cross-boundary form of control be developed in social operations aimed at children and young people where aspects such as objectives, operation content, results, knowledge cultivation and result and management accountability stretch across the organisational boundaries.