The Application of the Controllability Principle and Managers’ Responses
The starting point of Franz Fischer’s dissertation thesis is the long-established claim to hold people accountable only for what they can control. Whereas early publications take the application of the so-called controllability principle as a matter of course, subsequent works justify the principle’s application with the help of psychological or social psychological findings: The violation of the controllability principle is supposed to have negative motivational effects and thus decreases managers’ effort on the job. Recently, however, doubts have been raised about the principle’s meaningfulness. Also, empirical studies show that the principle is frequently not applied in corporate practice. In short: We do not have satisfactory knowledge about the effects of the principle’s application or nonapplication on managers’ mental models and their behavior. At the same time, we recognize that the question of whether or not to apply the principle is a major issue for management control in organizations of all sizes. In view of this, Franz Fischer’s dissertation thesis contributes to existing literature in at least three ways: First, Franz Fischer successfully adopts a role theory perspective in the investigation of cognitive, affective, and behavioral consequences of (not) applying the controllability principle in managers’ performance evaluation. Thus, he demonstrates that role theory enriches a stream of literature that has so far been dominated by motivational theories. Second, he introduces a new conceptualization and operationalization of the application of the controllability principle which depict this latent variable as a second-order construct.