A.m. (anke) Murillo Oosterwijk
Department of Accounting and Control
Erasmus University Rotterdam
PhD Project The Neuroscience of Decision-‐making under Accountability Accountability, being called to account for one’s actions, is a constitutive element of human organization. However, the usefulness of accountability has recently become a topic of debate because the effect of accountability on individual decision‐making is not well understood. While many accountability interventions seemingly succeed in enhancing motivation and rationality, less desirable effects may include mindless conformity, enhanced stress, conservatism, stifling of learning and creativity, shortsightedness, tunnel‐vision and means‐end inversion. Theorists within and between different fields often generate their own definition, conceptualizations and frameworks for studying accountability making accountability seem like an ever‐expanding concept. Therefore, we argue that a more fundamental approach to accountability effects is a timely endeavor. In a review paper, we aim to discuss the missing link between the current literature on accountability (in managerial and psychological science) and the relevant neuroscientific knowledge. For the purpose of this proposal we discuss the conceptual confusion that exists in the accountability literature and propose a working definition of accountability. Next, we propose research ideas for two empirical studies that will help us in mapping the brain mechanisms involved in decision‐making under accountability. The aim of the first empirical study is to investigate whether accountability changes cooperative attitudes in joint stag‐hunt decisions and, if so, identify the cerebral mechanisms that are involved. The aim of the second empirical study is to investigate whether, and if so how, accountability changes the modus operandi of decision strategies, e.g. the pruning of decision‐trees. We conclude by recapitulating the scientific and managerial relevance of a fundamental approach to accountability and finish with the planned time schedule and research collaborations for this PhD project.
Accounting and Control