The Accounting Review
Schuhmacher, Towry, and Zureich
October 3, 2022
Leading by example is one of the most powerful methods to encourage individuals to work toward a common objective. Despite the importance of leadership, little is known about how the effectiveness of leading by example depends on institutional features, such as the transparency and design of leaders' compensation contracts. We conduct two experiments to study this interplay between leadership and contracting in organizations with social missions (i.e., socially driven organizations). We find that under non-transparent contracts, leader contributions to the social objective positively influence follower contributions, reflecting effective leading by example. More importantly, under transparent contracts, the positive effect of leader contributions on follower contributions is diminished by an increase in the intensity of variable compensation and/or the amount of fixed compensation in the leader's contract. Our study informs the debate on pay transparency and demonstrates that organizations need to carefully consider the effects of contract design on leadership effectiveness.
Schuhmacher and Burkert
October 3, 2022
Accurate cost information is critical to effective decision making within organizations. Cost computations often rely on subjective judgments by employees regarding the amount of time that different tasks consume. In an experimental setting, we examine the accuracy of two common approaches to eliciting subjective time estimates vital for accurate cost information. Specifically, we compare estimation error when employees estimate (i) the total time for all iterations of a task (the pool approach) versus (ii) the average time for one iteration of a task (the unit approach). These two approaches have received interest by both practitioners and researchers and are at the heart of the difference between conventional activity-based costing (ABC) and time-driven ABC. While mathematically equivalent, we hypothesize and find that the two approaches evoke different cognitive processes that lead to differences in estimation error. Relative to the unit approach, the pool approach produces larger error in the allocation of time among different tasks, but only when the number of iterations per task varies across tasks. Further, the pool approach results in overestimation of productive time, whereas the unit approach leads to underestimation of productive time. Our findings are robust to different response modes of the pool approach (estimates in absolute time units and in percentages). This study is relevant for designers and users of cost and performance-measurement systems in that allocation errors lead to cost cross-subsidization and poor resource-allocation decisions, while overall errors undermine capacity utilization decisions.
Accounting and Business Research
Barroso, Burkert, Dávila, Oyon, and Schuhmacher
October 3, 2022
The controllability principle suggests evaluating managers solely based on performance measures they can control. In practice, however, companies often disregard this principle. Therefore, our study addresses organisational benefits linked to the lack of controllability in measures used for managers’ performance evaluations. We draw on important case-based findings to establish a positive ‘base relationship’ between lack of controllability and proactive work behaviour. We test this base relationship with a large-scale sample and find that companies encourage higher levels of proactive work behaviour when they rely on less controllable performance measures. Drawing on recent developments in role theory, we advance previous research and extend the base model by including the theoretical construct of flexible role orientation. We examine different mechanisms through which flexible role orientation potentially impacts the base model. Using survey responses from 432 managers, we find evidence for a mediation model as opposed to an interaction model. Specifically, we find that lack of controllability enhances role conflict, which in turn induces more flexible role orientations ultimately resulting in higher levels of proactive work behaviour.