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Karen Sedatole - Emory University, Goizueta Business School. Atlanta, GA, US

Karen Sedatole Karen Sedatole

Interim John H. Harland Dean; Goizueta Advisory Board Term Professor of Accounting | Emory University, Goizueta Business School








Dean Karen Sedatole on Whether Money is the Best Motivator for Employees Dean Karen Sedatole on Whether Money is the Best Motivator for Employees




Karen Sedatole became the Interim John H. Harland Dean of Goizueta Business School in May 2020. A three-time recipient of the American Accounting Association’s Notable Contributions to Management Accounting Research Award, she brings a synthesis of business acumen and academic expertise to the role. This informs Karen’s leadership and serves as a foundation for her commitment to the future of business education within the broader context of societal needs.

Karen’s pioneering research into the field of performance measurement and reward systems, the role of forecasting and budgetary systems within organizations, and control in interorganizational collaborations have added enormous value across academic and business spheres. In her research, she places emphasis on the role of trust, positive motivation, and systems thinking in the workplace. In tackling these issues, she has partnered across industries – health care, tech, automotive, and more – generating business-relevant research and earning her the Impact on Management Accounting Practice Award twice. Karen’s research has merited grants from the PwC Charitable Foundation, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Institute of Internal Auditors Research Foundation, and the Institute of Management Accountants. She has also demonstrated her commitment to Goizueta’s core value of principled leadership, serving as Faculty Director for Emory Executive Education’s Executive Women’s Leadership Forum.

Prior to joining the Emory faculty in 2017, Karen was the Russell E. Palmer Endowed Professor of Accounting at Michigan State University. She has also held academic appointments at the University of Texas at Austin and the Stephen F. Austin State University and visiting appointments at Monash University, University of Melbourne, Wake Forest University, and the University of California at Davis.

She has presented her research at numerous national and international conferences. Her effective forecasting and performance measurement articles have been published in a number of leading journals, including The Journal of Accounting Research, The Accounting Review, and the Harvard Business Review. Karen previously served as senior editor of the Journal of Management Accounting Research.

Karen holds a PhD in business administration from the University of Michigan, a masters of business administration from the University of Texas at Austin, and a bachelor of science in engineering from Baylor University.

Areas of Expertise (8)

Executive Compensation

Performance Evaluation

Reward Systems

Performance Measures

Interorganizational Collaboration


Compensation and Rewards

Calibration Committees

Education (3)

University of Michigan: PhD, Business Administration 2000

University of Texas at Austin: MBA, Business Administration 1989

Baylor University: BS, Engineering 1987

In the News (15)

How a calibration committee can correct bias in employee evaluations

HR Dive,  online


Calibration committees can correct performance evaluation scores inflated or deflated by a manager's bias or inconsistent standards, according to a study published by Harvard Business Review. The report examined a multinational organization's use of calibration committees over three years and found that they refined the consistency of the evaluation process, but decreased the variation of the ratings, which complicated the identification of high and low performers.

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Money For Lunch

Bert Martinez's shows  radio


Karen Sedatole is a Professor of Accounting at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. Along with accounting research colleagues from the College of William and Mary and the University of Missouri, she has conducted one of the first studies on the use of performance evaluation “calibration committees.” The study Karen is going to tell us about focuses on how to improve the measurement of performance.

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Lenz on Business

Lenz Marketiing  radio


It’s easy to simply describe accounting as a numbers game, but it’s much more than that. In fact, it’s a multifaceted discipline and one that this week’s guest researches for a living. How does accounting play a role in business forecasting and performance reviews? Award-winning researcher Karen Sedatole answers these and other questions.

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Improving Performance Evaluations

Human Resource Executive  online


It’s long been known that supervisors often apply different standards during employee evaluations and that personal biases can often slip into the process. However, there is now empirical evidence that calibration committees—which serve to adjust employee ratings assigned by supervisors—are an effective approach to help ensure consistency and fairness across performance ratings, according to a three-year academic study.

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WorkZone: Can your supervisor be trusted to review your work?

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  print


Rating the performance of employees can be one of a supervisor’s least favorite tasks. Often times supervisors give better reviews than employees deserve because they want to be liked, play favorites or worry that unfavorable reviews will reflect poorly on their own performance. The reviews are even more complicated when the criteria are subjective — does a person work well with a team or think through complex issues? — rather than objective, like how many widgets does the employee produce each week.

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Third-party risk: How to trust your partners

Journal of Accountancy  online


Economists once assumed that the new intercompany partnerships of the 1980s and 1990s would give way to mergers and joint ventures. Yet many services and goods today are delivered not by monolithic firms but by sets of companies that bridge sectors and continents. Businesses small and large are relying on networks of allies to reach new markets and capital, creating relationships that are lasting longer than anyone expected. In response, a team of researchers from four universities in the United States and Amsterdam has examined how firms are measuring and controlling risk in this complex new world.

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Why the Big Three Put Too Many Cars on the Lot

CFO.com  online


Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler used “absorption costing” to make themselves look more profitable, researchers say. But the practice can be costly, and other companies may want to think twice before they follow suit.

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Carrots Are More Powerful Motivators than Sticks, New Research Finds

Incentive Magazine  online


A new study finds that the promise of an incentive or bonus for a particular performance is not only more likely to create a trusting workplace, but to boost employee performance even in areas that are not being incentivized.

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Employees Motivated By Rewards, Not Penalties

FOXBusiness  online


The carrot, not the stick, is what that drives productivity in the workplace, according to new research. The study by Michigan State University associate professor of accounting Karen Sedatole revealed that the promise of a reward motivates employees Opens a New Window. more than the threat of a penalty.

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Performance Evaluation Practices Missing the Mark

WorldatWork/Workspan Research in Brief  online


New survey data suggests that companies might want to reconsider their performance evaluation practices. According to WorldatWork’s “Contemporary Performance Evaluation Practices Survey,” conducted in collaboration with a team of researchers led by Jasmijn Bol, Ph.D., of Tulane University, only 47% of responding organizations are satisfied with their performance evaluation processes.

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Calibration Committees Lead to Better Performance Assessments

WorldatWork/Workspan Daily  online


Deploying calibration committees is an effective way to mitigate bias in performance assessments. This is one of several substantive findings in “Contemporary Performance Evaluation Practices Survey,” conducted by WorldatWork in partnership with researchers at Tulane University, that sheds light on the current state of performance evaluation processes. The 254 compensation professionals surveyed are WorldatWork members who primarily work for companies with revenues greater than $100 million.

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Alternative Rater Systems Present Opportunities, Challenges

WorldatWork/Workspan Research in Brief  online


Nearly half of respondents (48%) in WorldatWork’s “Contemporary Performance Evaluation Practices Survey” use alternative raters in their performance evaluation systems.

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Exploring the Efficacy of Monetary Incentives to Motivate Employees

IEDP Developing Leaders  online


In a modern workplace no longer characterized by rigid hierarchies and where power is more diffused, traditional methods of motivation may no longer be enough. We have come to understand the value of providing people with ‘intrinsic motivation’ – a sense of purpose, the importance of creative, interesting work, and maintaining work-life balance. We have naturally moved away from a sole dependence on monetary incentives. However, in a New York Times opinion piece, management author Alfie Kohn asserts that “science has confirmed” that monetary rewards amount to “bribes” that don’t work. Somehow this doesn’t ring true. Has science really confirmed this? Would businesses continue to incentivize performance with monetary rewards if they did not work? And aren’t we all, at least to some extent, motivated by money?

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How to blend insight with data analytics to improve forecasts

CFO Dive  online


CFOs can improve the accuracy of their sales estimates — and, ultimately, earnings forecasts — by supplementing statistical modeling with the human-judgment side of forecasting, Karen Sedatole, an accounting

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Sedatole, K. 2019. Irrational but Predictable! When to Use Monetary Incentives to Motivate Employees

Ivy Exec Webinar  online


Kohn boldly proclaims “science has confirmed” that monetary rewards amount to “bribes” that don’t work. If that’s true, why do virtually all modern business organizations provide employees monetary incentives for performance? It turns out that the truth about the effectiveness of monetary rewards in business settings is more nuanced than Kohn suggests.

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