What I do or how I do it: The effect of accountability focus on individual exploration

Bart Verwaeren*, Bernard Nijstad

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

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Because accountability is a central feature of many management practices, feeling accountable is a fact of life in modern organizations. Accountability has been found to have many beneficial outcomes, yet it may also increase certain cognitive biases. Building on the social contingency model of accountability, we examine the effect of accountability on manager’s individual decision making about exploration vs. exploitation. We distinguish between outcome and process accountability and examine them as independent predictors of exploration behaviour. Although previous work suggests that outcome accountability may lead managers to quickly switch to old ways of working (i.e., exploitation), we propose that process accountability will increase individual exploration. Furthermore, employing the concept of disfluency, we propose that this positive effect of process accountability will be especially strong when outcome accountability is also high. Combining two survey studies (n = 361, n = 438) with employees and a lab experiment (n = 211), we find overall support for our hypotheses. Specifically, we find that process accountability increases exploration while outcome accountability decreases it (and increases exploitation). We also find partial support for a positive interaction of process and outcome accountability.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)421-439
Aantal pagina's19
TijdschriftEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Volume31
Nummer van het tijdschrift3
Vroegere onlinedatum23-aug-2021
DOI's
StatusPublished - 2022

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