The enabling and coercive impact of non-financial performance measures on executive intrinsic motivation and self-determination

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Copyright: Colaco, Beverly
Recent stakeholder pressure on company directors to balance trade-offs between short-term financial performance and long-term value creation (FCT Global, 2016, p.3) has prompted increased focus on long term non-financial performance measures (NFPMs) as an important component of management control systems (MCS). Of particular interest is the need to think beyond the immediate demands of corporate shareholders to satisfy the requirements of a broader set of stakeholders, including customers, employees and the communities in which organisations operate. Specifically, companies are increasingly required to demonstrate that they serve a “social purpose” (Fink, 2018). This study expands on the current management accounting literature to explore how the enabling and coercive design characteristics of NFPMs (Adler & Borys, 1996), along with contextual factors, impact the motivation of individual executives to pursue the long-term interests of the organisation. Understanding an executive’s perception of the design features of NFPMs relating to corporate social responsibility (CSR) provides insights into the contexts and conditions under which measures encourage long-term focus on a range of stakeholders rather than short-term financial decision-making. How the personal effects of such management accounting practices translate into organisational outcomes has not been previously tested (Hall, 2016; Wong-On-Wong et al., 2010). In response Hall (2016) suggested that Psychology theories may help to explain how MCS practices (for example, performance measures and incentive schemes) combine with other contextual factors to influence an individual’s psychological processes, including motivation and behaviours. In their research relating to enabling and coercive bureaucracies, Adler & Borys (1996) claimed that the conventional view of MCS is based on a flawed understanding of motivation as being either intrinsically or extrinsically derived. Responding to their call to understand MCS effectiveness an appreciation of motivation as a spectrum rather than a dichotomy (Ryan and Connell, 1989), this study provides evidence that executives may be intrinsically motivated by extrinsic factors (Deci et al., 1999), given the right context. By understanding how a cross section of executives perceive NFPMs, this study provides insights into specific psychological mechanisms that explain how management accounting practices impact satisfaction of basic psychological needs and motivation.
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