The Impact of Superior-Subordinate Identity and ex post Discretionary Goal Adjustment on Subordinate Expectancy of Reward and Performance

Ian Burt, Theresa Libby, Adam Presslee
  • Journal of Management Accounting Research, March 2020, American Accounting Association
  • DOI: 10.2308/jmar-52559

What is it about?

Firms often evaluate subordinate performance relative to a difficult but attainable goal set at the beginning of the evaluation period. For many, a mechanism exists by which these goals may be adjusted downward at the end of the period to account for an uncontrollable negative event. We examine, experimentally, how the knowledge that a downward ex post discretionary goal adjustment is possible affects subordinates' expectancy of reward and performance in periods where a negative uncontrollable event occurs, and whether high identity, defined as high perceived social connectedness between the superior and subordinate, moderates this effect. We find that high superior-subordinate identity can offset the otherwise negative impact of the potential for downward ex post discretionary goal adjustment on subordinates' expectancy of reward and performance. Thus, creating an organizational culture that promotes identity between superiors and subordinates can complement incentive-based controls in motivating subordinate performance.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Ian Burt T Burt, Dr Theresa Libby, and Dr. Adam Presslee