Why Me? The Effect of Controls on Prosocial Employees

38 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2018

See all articles by Jace Garrett

Jace Garrett

Clemson University

Kip Holderness

West Virginia University

Kari Olsen

Utah Valley University

Date Written: August 13, 2018


Prosocial motivation describes an individual’s desire to benefit others. Within organizations, employees with high prosocial motivation are likely to contribute more to the organization than employees with low prosocial motivation. To improve the performance of employees exerting low effort, managers may find it necessary to implement controls. However, controls can signal management’s mistrust of all employees. Our findings suggest that prosocial employees have greater negative reactions to controls than employees who are more self-interested. Thus, controls appear to have a disproportionate effect on those employees for whom such controls are less necessary. We find that employees’ prosocial motivation, combined with manager incentives and the explanation given for the control, directly influence perceptions of manager trust and indirectly influence employee effort. Thus, organizations can reduce the negative effect of controls by structuring managers’ incentives and the explanation offered for the control such that they align with employees’ prosocial motivations.

Keywords: control systems, prosocial motivation, manager incentives, control explanations, trust

Suggested Citation

Garrett, Jace and Holderness, Darin Kip and Olsen, Kari, Why Me? The Effect of Controls on Prosocial Employees (August 13, 2018). AAA 2019 Management Accounting Section (MAS) Meeting. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3230267 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3230267

Jace Garrett (Contact Author)

Clemson University ( email )

Clemson, SC 29631
United States

Darin Kip Holderness

West Virginia University ( email )

PO Box 6025
Morgantown, WV 26506
United States
3042937847 (Phone)
3042930635 (Fax)

Kari Olsen

Utah Valley University ( email )

800 West University Parkway
Orem, UT 84058
United States

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