Controlling outcome or procedures… Which leads to more innovation?

Bart Verwaeren

What was my dream when I was little?

As I child I wanted to become an inventor. The kind that wears a white lab coat and designs complicated machines.

What am I doing when I am not working on my PhD?

Besides drinking coffee and thinking about working on my PhD? I am a volunteer in an organization that organizes training for youth workers. I give training, design courses, and work on some HR related aspects of the organization’s internal structure.  

What is my PhD about?

I study the impact of different types of management control systems on individual and group innovation. Traditionally, management control theories suggest that if you want people to be more innovative, you need to make them accountable for the outcomes of their work and not for how they do it. The reason for this is that innovative processes are hard to predict, control, and measure.

I take a more cognitive approach to the effects of outcome and process accountability and propose that, at least sometimes, making people accountable for how they do their work will lead to more exploration of new ideas (i.e., innovation).

Why is this important for practice?

While the concepts in my PhD may sounds a bit abstract, it all translates directly to real situations in organizations. We all have been in situations in which we were either accountable for our results or for how we were doing something. If we think back, we might remember how that impacted how we worked.

The results of this PhD can help managers to decide between outcome and process accountability when they are designing control systems for their organization, be it in the form of evaluation systems, bonus systems, or approaches to leadership.

& Rankings

Equis Association of MBAs AACSB Financial Times