The Contrast-Inertia Model and the Updating of Attributions in Performance Evaluation

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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 ... continued below

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vii, 201 leaves: ill.

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Atkinson, Sue Andrews December 1989.

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  • Atkinson, Sue Andrews

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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 information. The experimental results were analyzed by repeated measures analyses of variance, in which the dependent variable was an opinion or the change in an opinion over a series of evidence items.
The experimental results indicate that the order of mixed positive and negative information affects beliefs in performance evaluation. For mixed evidence, there was significant divergence of opinions between superiors and subordinates. The results provide little evidence that superior and subordinate roles bias the belief updating process. The experiments show that belief revision in performance evaluation deviates from the normative standard, and that the use of accounting information may cause divergence of opinions between superiors and subordinates.

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vii, 201 leaves: ill.

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  • December 1989

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  • Aug. 22, 2014, 6 p.m.

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  • Aug. 28, 2015, 12:56 p.m.

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Atkinson, Sue Andrews. The Contrast-Inertia Model and the Updating of Attributions in Performance Evaluation, dissertation, December 1989; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc332100/: accessed November 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .