Biography

Karen Sedatole became the Interim John H. Harland Dean of Goizueta Business School in May 2020. A three-time recipient of the American Accounting Association’s Notable Contributions to Management Accounting Research Award and a winner of the 2020 Management Accounting Research David Solomons Prize, she brings a synthesis of business acumen and academic expertise to the role. This informs Karen’s leadership and serves as a foundation for her commitment to the future of business education within the broader context of societal needs.

Karen’s pioneering research into the field of performance measurement and reward systems, the role of forecasting and budgetary systems within organizations, and control in interorganizational collaborations have added enormous value across academic and business spheres. In her research, she places emphasis on the role of trust, positive motivation, and systems thinking in the workplace. In tackling these issues, she has partnered across industries – health care, tech, automotive, and more – generating business-relevant research and earning her the Impact on Management Accounting Practice Award twice. Karen’s research has merited grants from the PwC Charitable Foundation, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Institute of Internal Auditors Research Foundation, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, and the Institute of Management Accountants. She has also demonstrated her commitment to Goizueta’s core value of principled leadership, serving as Faculty Director for Emory Executive Education’s Executive Women’s Leadership Forum.

Prior to joining the Emory faculty in 2017, Karen was the Russell E. Palmer Endowed Professor of Accounting at Michigan State University. She has also held academic appointments at the University of Texas at Austin and the Stephen F. Austin State University.

She has presented her research at numerous national and international conferences. Her effective forecasting and performance measurement articles have been published in a number of leading journals, including The Journal of Accounting Research, The Accounting Review, and the Harvard Business Review. Karen previously served as senior editor of the Journal of Management Accounting Research.

Karen holds a PhD in business administration from the University of Michigan, a masters of business administration from the University of Texas at Austin, and a bachelor of science in engineering from Baylor University.

Education

  • PhD
    University of Michigan
    2000
  • MBA
    University of Texas at Austin
    1989
  • BS
    Baylor University
    1987

In the News

  • December 31, 2020
    Poets & Quants
    Most of us use the occasion of a new year to resolve personal changes and improvements. Business school deans and others in graduate business education leadership tend to be more ambitious. Every December for the last few years, Poets&Quants has asked deans and others at the top B-schools around the world to share their plans for the coming year — see previous versions of this story here and here. This year, after the trauma of a worldwide pandemic and its economic reverberations, as well as the resounding cultural repercussions of racial reckoning in the United States, more were eager to share their visions for the coming year than ever before — not predictions, which we collected for another story, but resolutions, specifically what they intend to use their considerable platforms to help bring about.
  • May 2, 2020
    NPR
    Are we ready to reopen more businesses right now? It's May, and that means more states across America will begin lifting stay-at-home restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Are we, as a nation, ready for this? Hosts Brian Ellison of KCUR in Kansas City, Missouri, and John Dankosky of New England Public Radio explore the economic and emotional strife we're facing. On the one hand, businesses that have been closed and people out of work need to restart. On the other, widespread testing and a vaccine are not yet available. You'll hear from Pedro Soto, entrepreneur and president and CEO of Hygrade Precision Technologies in Plainville, Connecticut, Laura Norris, owner of Ragazza Italian restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri, Karen Sedatole, interim dean of Emory University's Goizueta Business School in Atlanta, Georgia, and Rashaun Clark, owner of a salon and Urban Cafe in Kansas City, Missouri.
  • May 1, 2019
    WorldatWork/Workspan Research in Brief
    New survey data suggests that companies might want to reconsider their performance evaluation practices. According to WorldatWork’s “Contemporary Performance Evaluation Practices Survey,” conducted in collaboration with a team of researchers led by Jasmijn Bol, Ph.D., of Tulane University, only 47% of responding organizations are satisfied with their performance evaluation processes.
  • June 13, 2018
    HR Dive,
    Calibration committees can correct performance evaluation scores inflated or deflated by a manager's bias or inconsistent standards, according to a study published by Harvard Business Review. The report examined a multinational organization's use of calibration committees over three years and found that they refined the consistency of the evaluation process, but decreased the variation of the ratings, which complicated the identification of high and low performers.
  • May 1, 2018
    Bert Martinez's shows
    Karen Sedatole is a Professor of Accounting at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. Along with accounting research colleagues from the College of William and Mary and the University of Missouri, she has conducted one of the first studies on the use of performance evaluation “calibration committees.” The study Karen is going to tell us about focuses on how to improve the measurement of performance.
  • April 28, 2018
    Lenz Marketiing
    It’s easy to simply describe accounting as a numbers game, but it’s much more than that. In fact, it’s a multifaceted discipline and one that this week’s guest researches for a living. How does accounting play a role in business forecasting and performance reviews? Award-winning researcher Karen Sedatole answers these and other questions.
  • April 16, 2018
    Human Resource Executive
    It’s long been known that supervisors often apply different standards during employee evaluations and that personal biases can often slip into the process. However, there is now empirical evidence that calibration committees—which serve to adjust employee ratings assigned by supervisors—are an effective approach to help ensure consistency and fairness across performance ratings, according to a three-year academic study.
  • April 2, 2018
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Rating the performance of employees can be one of a supervisor’s least favorite tasks. Often times supervisors give better reviews than employees deserve because they want to be liked, play favorites or worry that unfavorable reviews will reflect poorly on their own performance. The reviews are even more complicated when the criteria are subjective — does a person work well with a team or think through complex issues? — rather than objective, like how many widgets does the employee produce each week.
  • May 1, 2016
    Journal of Accountancy
    Economists once assumed that the new intercompany partnerships of the 1980s and 1990s would give way to mergers and joint ventures. Yet many services and goods today are delivered not by monolithic firms but by sets of companies that bridge sectors and continents. Businesses small and large are relying on networks of allies to reach new markets and capital, creating relationships that are lasting longer than anyone expected. In response, a team of researchers from four universities in the United States and Amsterdam has examined how firms are measuring and controlling risk in this complex new world.
  • February 2, 2012
    CFO.com
    Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler used “absorption costing” to make themselves look more profitable, researchers say. But the practice can be costly, and other companies may want to think twice before they follow suit.
  • June 22, 2012
    FOXBusiness
    The carrot, not the stick, is what that drives productivity in the workplace, according to new research. The study by Michigan State University associate professor of accounting Karen Sedatole revealed that the promise of a reward motivates employees Opens a New Window. more than the threat of a penalty.
  • May 22, 2019
    WorldatWork/Workspan Daily
    Deploying calibration committees is an effective way to mitigate bias in performance assessments. This is one of several substantive findings in “Contemporary Performance Evaluation Practices Survey,” conducted by WorldatWork in partnership with researchers at Tulane University, that sheds light on the current state of performance evaluation processes. The 254 compensation professionals surveyed are WorldatWork members who primarily work for companies with revenues greater than $100 million.
  • November 27, 2019
    IEDP Developing Leaders
    In a modern workplace no longer characterized by rigid hierarchies and where power is more diffused, traditional methods of motivation may no longer be enough. We have come to understand the value of providing people with ‘intrinsic motivation’ – a sense of purpose, the importance of creative, interesting work, and maintaining work-life balance. We have naturally moved away from a sole dependence on monetary incentives. However, in a New York Times opinion piece, management author Alfie Kohn asserts that “science has confirmed” that monetary rewards amount to “bribes” that don’t work. Somehow this doesn’t ring true. Has science really confirmed this? Would businesses continue to incentivize performance with monetary rewards if they did not work? And aren’t we all, at least to some extent, motivated by money?
  • February 13, 2019
    Ivy Exec Webinar
    Kohn boldly proclaims “science has confirmed” that monetary rewards amount to “bribes” that don’t work. If that’s true, why do virtually all modern business organizations provide employees monetary incentives for performance? It turns out that the truth about the effectiveness of monetary rewards in business settings is more nuanced than Kohn suggests.
  • May 22, 2019
    WorldatWork, Workspan Daily
    Deploying calibration committees is an effective way to mitigate bias in performance assessments. This is one of several substantive findings in “Contemporary Performance Evaluation Practices Survey,” conducted by WorldatWork in partnership with researchers at Tulane University, that sheds light on the current state of performance evaluation processes. The 254 compensation professionals surveyed are WorldatWork members who primarily work for companies with revenues greater than $100 million.
  • November 27, 2019
    IEDP Developing Leaders
    In a modern workplace no longer characterized by rigid hierarchies and where power is more diffused, traditional methods of motivation may no longer be enough. We have come to understand the value of providing people with ‘intrinsic motivation’ – a sense of purpose, the importance of creative, interesting work, and maintaining work-life balance. We have naturally moved away from a sole dependence on monetary incentives. However, in a New York Times opinion piece, management author Alfie Kohn asserts that “science has confirmed” that monetary rewards amount to “bribes” that don’t work. Somehow this doesn’t ring true. Has science really confirmed this? Would businesses continue to incentivize performance with monetary rewards if they did not work? And aren’t we all, at least to some extent, motivated by money? To understand if Kohn is right, or if there is a more nuanced answer, Karen Sedatole, Professor of Accounting at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School says we need to look at patterns of human behavior. The classical economic theory, which gave us ‘homo economicus,’ assumes people always behave in a rational way and, as with Gordon Gekko in the ‘Wall Street’ movies, selfishness predominates. Findings from psychology and particularly behavioral economics have started to show this to be incorrect. In fact, people tend to make illogical choices contrary to self-interest. Our capacity to think – via a mix of deep reflective thinking and rapid automatic thinking – can lead us to what economists might consider to be irrational behaviors – albeit with the cognitive biases behind our thinking staying mostly predictable.
  • December 19, 2019
    CFO Dive
    CFOs can improve the accuracy of their sales estimates — and, ultimately, earnings forecasts — by supplementing statistical modeling with the human-judgment side of forecasting, Karen Sedatole, an accounting professor at Emory University, told CFO Dive last week. Sedatole and her co-authors have research coming out early next year showing improved sales estimates at an agriculture chemical company that used what she calls disaggregated forecasting. She’s also working on human-judgment research that looks at ways to better align incentives to more accurate forecasts.