Controls and the Asymmetric Stickiness of Norms

48 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2013 Last revised: 16 Aug 2016

See all articles by Scott A. Emett

Scott A. Emett

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Accountancy

Ronald N. Guymon

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

William B. Tayler

Brigham Young University

Donald Young

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business

Date Written: July 28, 2015

Abstract

This study investigates how formal control systems and the behavior of peers influence behavior in accounting settings. We manipulate formal controls and peer behavior (social norms) in a laboratory experiment, allowing us to precisely investigate the interactive effect of these two factors on behavior. We provide evidence that weak controls lead to more socially-interested behavior, while strong controls lead to more self-interested behavior. We also provide evidence that individuals conform more to social norms that conflict with the behavior that formal controls induce. Finally, we find that individuals preferentially attend and conform to the self-interested actions of peers (as opposed to the socially-interested actions of their peers), causing self-interested norms to be “stickier” than socially-interested norms for behavior. Our results suggest that the interaction of formal controls and normative influence will lead to a gradual movement toward noncompliance with management expectations or regulatory requirements in accounting contexts.

Keywords: Controls, Conformity, Norms, Social Norms, Ethics

JEL Classification: M40, M41, M49, C91

Suggested Citation

Emett, Scott A. and Guymon, Ronald N. and Tayler, William B. and Young, Donald, Controls and the Asymmetric Stickiness of Norms (July 28, 2015). AAA 2014 Management Accounting Section (MAS) Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2235408 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2235408

Scott A. Emett

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Accountancy ( email )

Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

Ronald N. Guymon

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

601 E John St
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
7703099523 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://business.illinois.edu/profile/ronald-guymon/

William B. Tayler (Contact Author)

Brigham Young University ( email )

Brigham Young University
519 TNRB
Provo, UT 84602
United States
(801) 422-5972 (Phone)
(801) 422-0621 (Fax)

Donald Young

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business ( email )

1309 East Tenth Street
Indianapolis, IN 47405-1701
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
409
Abstract Views
3,384
rank
100,462
PlumX Metrics