Research

Publications

Van Pelt, V. (2023). Asymmetric Adjustment of Control. Contemporary Accounting Research, 40(4), 2203-2225. https://doi.org/10.1111/1911-3846.12886.

Wood D.A., Achhplilia, M.P., Adams, M.T., Aghazadeh, S., Akinyele, K., Akpan, M., ... Zoet, E. (2023). The ChatGPT Artificial Intelligence Chatbot: How Well Does It Answer Accounting Assessment Questions? Issues in Accounting Education, 38(4), 1-28. https://doi.org/10.2308/ISSUES-2023-013.

Dierynck, B., and Van Pelt, V. (2021). The Sorting Benefits of Discretionary Adjustment to Performance-based Pay. Management Accounting Research, 52, 100755. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mar.2021.100755.

Kamp, B. and Van Pelt, V. (2014). De Mededeling Omtrent Gebleken Fundamentele Fouten. Maandblad voor Accountancy en Bedrijfseconomie, 88(9), 349-357. https://doi.org/10.5117/mab.88.31349.

Working Papers

Accountants’ Attitudes Towards Open Science

Co-authored with Joachim Gassen and Jacqueline Klug

Surveying a sample of scholars that have published in leading accounting journals, we document that we accounting researchers are more skeptical about the reproducibility of our influential findings than researchers from other social science areas are about theirs. Also, we are less familiar with public sharing of research materials (data, code, and research procedures) and have less experience with pre-registrating our study designs, two prominent open science measures to increase the reproducibility of research. Our respondents state that they are open to sharing and would be likely to share research materials under a hypothetical scenario, regardless of the experimental framing. They also believe that other accounting researchers, as well as editors, are in favor of research material sharing. However, they are skeptical about the actual prevalence of research material sharing in the accounting research community. In addition, they are more reluctant than researchers from neighboring fields to pre-register their study plans. We interpret this descriptive evidence as indicating an "accounting open science dilemma" and suggest strategies for addressing it.

Time Flies Unless They Know: Relative Performance Information and Overwork

Co-authored with Terje Berg and Hakim Lyngstadås

Previous research finds that relative performance information can enhance motivation and performance. However, less is known about its impact on the tendency of workers to work ‘too much.’ To address this gap, we conducted two experiments investigating the phenomenon of overwork, which we define as workers extending their working time so much it adversely affects their capacity to put in working time in the future, and the effects of relative performance information. Our findings show that workers engage in overwork when they lose track of time, focus on increasing immediate performance, and are not aware of the adverse consequences of overwork. Additionally, we find that the prospect of sufficiently detailed relative performance information decreases the tendency of workers to overwork. By alerting peers to the occurrence of overwork, the prospect of relative performance information encourages workers to monitor their working time more carefully and prevents them from overworking. These results suggest that, under the right circumstances, relative performance information can improve rather than deteriorate worker well-being and contribute to a more sustainable workforce and labor market.

Motivating Low Performers with Input-Based Relative Performance Feedback: Evidence from a Field Experiment

Co-authored with Rainer Michael Rilke, Sebastian Lehnen, and Christina Guenther

A significant challenge firms face is providing performance feedback that effectively motivates low-performing employees. In our field experiment, we examined the impact of an often-overlooked form of relative performance feedback that emphasizes comparing employees based on their inputs. Our results indicate that input-based relative performance feedback enhances the input-based performance of low performers without adversely affecting high performers. Furthermore, our field experiment demonstrates that carefully choosing the right type of input can substantially increase low performers' contributions to a firm's overall output. Together, our findings support our prediction that input-based relative performance feedback provides a viable strategy for low performers to narrow the performance gap with high performers by guiding them toward the crucial inputs high performers use to generate output. Our study adds an important refinement to our understanding of how relative performance feedback promotes upward social comparison and offers valuable insights for firms aiming to motivate low performers in their workforce.

Public Tax Disclosures and Investor Perceptions

Co-authored with Bart Dierynck, Martin Jacob, Maximilian Müller, and Christian Peters

Regulators increasingly consider and mandate public tax disclosures. Public tax disclosures are often assumed to raise awareness and scrutiny of firms’ tax positions and would thus help retail investors determine whether a firm is paying its fair share of taxes. We conduct three experiments to test this assumption. The first experiment shows that retail investors become worse at developing informed perceptions about firms’ tax strategies, leading to less differentiated fair share perceptions in the presence of public tax disclosures. The reason is that retail investors adopt a heuristic approach focusing on the easy-to-process publicly disclosed tax information. We find that this also has implications for retail investors’ willingness to invest. The second and third experiments use theory-driven interventions to attenuate the adverse effects of public tax disclosures. Our results show that these theory-driven interventions can indeed reduce the adverse effects of public tax disclosures.

What Do You Recommend? The Effects of Communication on Misreporting in Autonomous Teams

Co-authored with Anna Ressi and Daniel Schaupp

Many firms have started giving teams greater freedom in determining how they organize and report their work. This study examines how communication drives (dis)honest reporting in such autonomous teams. Through a series of three experiments, we analyze how team members use communication to influence each other and steer their team’s reporting decisions. Our first two experiments show evidence of an asymmetric effect of communication on honesty: while the communication of initially dishonest team members infect initially honest team members, the latter fail to discipline the former, resulting in a dishonesty shift. In the third experiment, we investigate whether and how the social distance between the firm’s owners and team members might influence the magnitude of the dishonesty shift. Our results indicate that when social distance is reduced, the dishonesty shift vanishes. Jointly, our findings are consistent with social norm theory, which predicts that communication can increase team misreporting depending on the salience of different situational cues. Our study offers various contributions to the accounting ethics and participative budgeting literature. It reveals the process of how communication can increase the collective dishonesty in teams and ways how firms can attenuate it.

In Search of Informed Discretion (Revisited): Are Managers Concerned about Appearing Selfish?

Co-authored with Bart Dierynck and Jesse van der Geest

Managers can undertake costly searches to gather additional information about employee performance. Previous management accounting research attributed these actions to social preferences such as fairness and reciprocity. To further refine this explanation, we conducted a replication and extension of prior exper-imental work. Our findings suggest that managers’ willingness to gather addi-tional information at their own expense also depends on situational factors, par-ticularly situational factors altering managers’ concerns of being perceived as selfish if they do not gather additional information. These findings align with insights from behavioral economics and social psychology, indicating that situa-tional factors may induce self-interested individuals to exhibit prosocial behav-ior. The implication of our result is that creating working conditions that in-crease managers’ concerns about appearing selfish may encourage them to make more informed performance evaluation and compensation decisions.

Aspirations for Writing Professional and Academic Documents

Single-authored manuscript for teaching

Of all my activities as an academic, writing tends to take up most of my time. However, I consider writing far from the most enjoyable part of my job. Accordingly, I have made it my mission to write as efficiently and effectively as possible to make time for the parts of my job that I like the most. This manuscript, which is reading material for my academic writing course at WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management, summarizes writing aspirations that I have collected over the past couple of years. Whether you are a student, academic, or professional, it provides a no-nonsense guide for anyone looking to improve their academic and professional writing while minimizing the time they have to be engaged in it.