The American Accounting Association awarded WHU Assistant Professor Dr. Victor van Pelt with the Management Accounting Section Dissertation Award for his doctoral dissertation on “Asymmetric Adjustment of Control.” The award is sponsored by the Institute of Management Accountants and recognizes exceptional research in the field of management accounting.
In his study, Victor van Pelt examines whether managers experienced with control decisions tend to control their employees more than others do. Managers should be equally willing to decrease their control over employees, as they are to increase their control over employees. However, building on psychological theory, van Pelt predicts that experience with controlling employees reinforces a belief that employees should be controlled. In contrast, experience with not controlling employees does not reinforce a belief that employees should not be controlled. Accordingly, managers should be less willing to decrease their control than they are to increase their control over employees. The results of the experiment support his prediction by displaying a clear asymmetric adjustment pattern.
“It is a great honor that the American Accounting Association chose my work for the Management Accounting Section Dissertation Award. I am more than happy to contribute with my research on the field of management accounting,” reports Victor van Pelt. Van Pelt's study offers a cautionary note for practice: extensive experience with controlling employees may lead to a “control creep,” whereby control is progressively strengthened over time. Specifically, a reinforced belief that employees should be controlled may not only cause managers to cling to their control over employees but may also further reinforce this belief because it elicits precisely the type of employee behavior that warrants higher levels of control. Additionally, since Van Pelt's study shows that managers do not reinforce a belief that employees should not be controlled in low-control environments, firms and institutions do not necessarily have to restrict managers’ exposure to such environments.
Victor van Pelt joined WHU as Assistant Professor in August 2019. In his research, he applies experimental research methods to accounting topics and questions. His work predominantly focuses on understanding how people produce, use, and respond to disclosure, accounting information, performance measures, and controls. Van Pelt studied Organization Studies (BSc) and International Management (MSc) at Tilburg University. He completed a two-year research Master program in accounting and received his Ph.D. in Accounting from Tilburg University in June 2019.
More information about the award