Performance Measurement Systems and Subordinate Self-Control of Emergent Learning
45 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2013 Last revised: 29 Nov 2013
Date Written: November 25, 2013
Accounting literature recognizes that relatively autonomous self-control by subordinates can potentially create organizational value in highly uncertain situations, such as those involving creativity, entrepreneurship, learning, and innovation. The accounting literature, however, has a 50 year history of conflicting assumptions, disagreement, or "debate" about the relevance, reliability, and roles associated with the design of performance measures and performance measurement systems for influencing subordinate self-control. This paper begins to address this debate using the following research strategy. First, interdisciplinary theories are used to develop theory labeled implicit accounting architecture for how performance measures and performance measurement systems function in a highly uncertain emergent learning situation in which subordinates are relied on to self-control. Second, the paper uses the implicit accounting architecture and three rival social psychology theories to develop competing hypotheses about whether and how performance measurement system causal framing influences subordinates’ intrinsic payoffs. Finally, a behavioral economic method and a field experiment are used to test the competing hypotheses in a subordinate self-control situation designed to simulate bottom-up emergent learning. The results provide strong support for one competing social psychology theory that posits a reliable or performance-contingent relationship between performance measurement system causal framing and subordinates' intrinsic payoffs. The implications for practice and theory are discussed.
Keywords: context reasoning, emergence, framing, implicit accounting architecture, organizational incentive systems, performance measurement systems, performance measures, self-control, social norms, uncertainty
JEL Classification: C91, C93, M12, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation