Emory University, Goizueta Business School

Emory University, Goizueta Business School Emory University, Goizueta Business School

1300 Clifton Road, Atlanta, 30322, GA, US

Managers’ performance measures and their work behavior

Managers’ performance measures and their work behavior 2018-07-30
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Karl Schuhmacher

Management accounting literature devotes considerable attention to the “controllability principle.” This principle stipulates that managers should only be held responsible for the results they directly control through their actions. The literature argues that the use of less controllable performance measures reduces managerial motivation and causes stress. However, Karl Schuhmacher, assistant professor of accounting; Michael Burkert (U Fribourg); Franz Fischer (independent researcher); and Florian Hoos (HC Paris) argue that there can also be positive effects associated with a lack of controllability. The researchers conducted a survey with 432 business managers, asking questions related to the measures used for their performance evaluations. They concluded that less controllable measures do create stress but also induce proactive work behaviors. In fact, the lack of controllability stimulates managers to cope with stress by interpreting their roles more flexibly and cooperating with peers to seek solutions for organizational problems they cannot control individually. The authors suggest further research to determine how organizations modulate between the positive and negative effects of disregarding the controllability principle.


The Relationship between Lack of Controllability and Proactive Work Behaviour: An Empirical Analysis of Competing Theoretical Explanations

The controllability principle suggests evaluating managers solely based on performance measures they can control. In practice, however, companies often disregard this principle. Therefore, our study addresses organisational benefits linked to the lack of controllability in measures used for managers’ performance evaluations.