Date: December 1989
Creator: Atkinson, Sue Andrews
Description: The two problems which motivate this research concern the role of managerial accounting information in performance evaluation. The first problem is that the processing of accounting information by individual managers may deviate from a normative (Bayesian) pattern. Second, managers' use of accounting information in performance appraisal may contribute to conflict between superiors and subordinates. In this research, I applied the contrast-inertia model (C-IM) and attribution theory (AT) to predict how accounting information affects managers' beliefs about the causes for observed performance. The C-IM describes how new evidence is incorporated into opinions. Application of the C-IM leads to the prediction that information order may influence managers' opinions. Attribution theory is concerned with how people use information to assign causality, especially for success or failure. Together, the C-IM and AT imply that causal beliefs of superiors and subordinates diverge when they assimilate accounting information. Three experiments were performed with manufacturing managers as subjects. Most of the subjects were middle-level production managers from Texas manufacturing plants. The subjects used accounting information in revising their beliefs about causes for performance problems. In the experiments, the manipulated factors were the order of information, subject role (superior or subordinate), and the position of different types of ...
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