- Why business unit controllers bias accounting figures: Involvement in management, social pressure and Machiavellianism
- Number of pages
- Amsterdam: Faculteit Economie en Bedrijfskunde
- Document type
- Working paper
- Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB)
- Amsterdam Business School Research Institute (ABS-RI)
This paper investigates why some business unit controllers are more likely to deliberately bias accounting data than others. Different from the existing literature, we argue that involvement in management and social pressure are neither necessary, nor sufficient conditions for biasing behavior. Instead, our analysis shows the importance of personality differences. We present the results from an experiment among 136 management accountants, who assumed the role of business unit controller. The results suggest that the personality construct Machiavellianism interacts with involvement to explain controllers' responses to social pressure to bias accounting data. Controllers scoring high on Machiavellianism were more likely to give in to pressure by business unit management to slack budgetary targets when they had been involved in strategic and operational decision making. Controllers scoring low on Machiavellianism instead became less susceptible to pressure when they had been actively involved in management.
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