oa Meditari : Research Journal of the School of Accounting Sciences - The effect of attribution on perceptions of managers' performance

Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1022-2529



Managers can influence the evaluation of their performance by advancing various reasons for or making attributions regarding their financial achievement or the financial achievement of their divisions. In this study, an experimental design is used to determine the effect that the advancing of controllable reasons versus uncontrollable reasons, of which evaluators are either aware or not aware, has on the evaluation of managers' performance in conditions in which they had recorded financial results that are lower or higher than the budgeted figures.

The experiment reveals that performance evaluations are higher when variances are explained by means of controllable reasons in the above-budget setting, whereas higher evaluations result in the below-budget setting when variances are explained by means of uncontrollable reasons. Furthermore, the evaluator's prior knowledge of these reasons results in a difference in the performance evaluation rating. Specifically, known reasons result in higher manager evaluation ratings. The experiment reveals that managers that record above-budget performance are given higher evaluation ratings than managers that record below-budget performance, even when variances are explained by means of reasons that the managers cannot control. This is known as the outcome effect. However, the findings indicate that the outcome effect is smaller when the evaluator has independent knowledge of the reason(s) advanced.

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