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Effect of cognitive style and professional development on the initiation of radical and non-radical management accounting innovations
David Emsleya , Barbara Nevickyb , Graeme Harrisonb
School of Business, University of Sydney, Sydney, 2006, Australia Department of Accounting and Finance, Macquarie University, Sydney, 2105, Australia
Abstract This study examines the effects of adaptive/innovative cognitive style, and professional development on the initiation of radical and non-radical innovations by individual management accountants. Data are gathered through questionnaire and follow-up interviews with practising management accountants. The results show that management accountants with a more innovative (adaptive) cognitive style tend to initiate more (fewer) radical relative to non-radical innovations, and that this effect is ampliﬁed by professional development. The study has implications for research in management accounting innovation and for practice, including the importance of maintaining a balance of radical and non-radical innovations in organizations, and of professional development. Key words: Innovations; Cognitive style; Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Inventory; Professional development JEL classiﬁcation: M40 doi: 10.1111/j.1467-629X.2006.00165.x
1. Introduction Research into innovation has become increasingly important in recent years. Damanpour (1988) and Porter and Stern (2001) note that change affecting organizations is widespread and, to maintain competitiveness, organizations need to innovate to adapt to and preempt change. Innovation at an organizational level can trigger innovation at the management accounting level to ensure that accounting information remains relevant to employees’ changing needs (Chenhall and Langﬁeld-Smith,
The authors greatly appreciate the helpful comments provided by two anonymous referees. Received 14 February 2005; accepted 1 June 2005 by Robert Faff (Editor).
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1998). For example, the introduction of an organizational innovation such as total quality management to enhance employee empowerment requires innovation in management accounting systems to ensure that quality-related information is provided to those empowered employees. Research into organizational innovation has examined several determinants of innovativeness, including external environmental factors, such as competition and technology, and internal organizational factors, such as size, complexity, formalization and centralization, incentives and top management support (e.g. Damanpour (1992) and Rogers (1995) for innovation generally, and Libby and Waterhouse (1996), Chenhall and Langﬁeld-Smith (1998), Shields (1995), Williams and Seaman (2001) and Baines and Langﬁeld-Smith (2003) for innovation in management accounting). While signiﬁcant attention has been directed to these environmental and organizational determinants of innovativeness, this paper focuses on the importance of individuals to management accounting innovations. Such attention is important as the innovation literature consistently points to the signiﬁcance of the role of the individual. Daft (1978) argues that a certain individual (an ‘idea champion’) must exist who wants the innovation badly enough to carry it forward. This person must identify the innovation, translate it into a proposal and gain the support of organizational members if the innovation is to succeed. The importance of the idea champion is supported by Sch¨ n (1963) who argues that ‘a new idea either ﬁnds a champion or o dies’, and Amabile (1988) who contends that individual creativity is the most crucial element of organizational innovation. Rogers (1995), Howell and Higgins (1990) and Scott and Bruce (1994) also reinforce the importance of the individual, noting that innovativeness cannot be understood without attention to the personal, as well as the environmental and organizational factors. These ﬁndings in the literature are explored in management accounting settings by Brown et al. (2004), where the individual champion is seen as the most important of several factors in explaining the initiation and adoption of activity-based costing (ABC). However, having noted the importance of individual champions in management accounting innovations, we need to be able to elaborate on some of the factors that affect their innovative behaviour. Two factors are examined in the present study: the cognitive style of the individual management accountant and the extent of their professional development. The importance of cognitive style is drawn from the innovation and creativity literature (e.g. Amabile, 1988; Howell and Higgins, 1990; Scott and Bruce, 1994; Rogers, 1995; Janssen et al., 1998; Bobic et al., 1999; Simonton, 2000). Amabile (1988) identiﬁes three components of the individual that are important for organizational innovation: their creativity-relevant skills, domain-relevant skills and intrinsic task motivation, the ﬁrst of which relates to cognitive style. Howell and Higgins (1990) argue that individuals differ in their inherent innovativeness, predisposing some to promote innovations in organizations more than others. Scott and Bruce (1994) contend that, as the foundation of innovation is ideas, research into what enables individual innovative behaviour is critical and that such research should include
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. it must be recognized that innovations are not all the same but differ in systematic ways. For example. Radicalness refers to the degree of change in management accounting practices. 2005). studying the effect of professional development on innovative behaviour is well motivated from the innovation and creativity literature. These skills are an individual’s raw materials for creative productivity. and radicalness is also now being recognized as differentiating innovations in the management accounting literature (Burns and Scapens. (2002) suggest that a radical innovation might require more of an outward looking perspective compared to a non-radical innovation where an inward focus is more appropriate. Moreover.. He argues that creative individuals do not produce new ideas in a vacuum. C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . say. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 245 cognitive style as an antecedent of innovative behaviour. the new idea. However. little attention has been focussed on the cognitive style of the accountant in management accounting innovation research. Innovations have long been regarded as differing in their radicalness in the management literature (Zaltman et al. and comprise factual knowledge. although examining cognitive style and professional development will enhance understanding the factors affecting management accounting innovations. The radicalism of innovations is relevant to this paper because it is expected that the factors that determine the introduction of radical innovations are different to those that affect the introduction of non-radical innovations. technical skills and special talents in the domain. Soin et al. 1988). Daft (1978) suggests that new ideas are brought to an organization by experts who are interested in. As management accountants are typically members of professional bodies. 1973). And Simonton (2000) notes that psychologists have long been interested in differences in cognitive style that enable some people to display more creativity than others. all of which are affected by professional development (Amabile. complement a change in strategy.D. which mandate minimum levels of professional development activities for continued membership. both radical and non-radical innovations might be required at the same time but to different parts of the management accounting system. Soin et al. These relationships are now examined in more detail. Despite these arguments. 2000. 2002. The present paper explores why these outward and inward perspectives might be a function of both the cognitive style of management accountants and their professional development. Radical innovations are appropriate where new and different practices are needed to. Amabile (1988) also captures professional development in her model of individual creativity through the domain-relevant skills component. The importance of professional development in affecting an individual’s innovativeness is also drawn from the innovation and creativity literature. whereas non-radical innovations are more appropriate where the aim is to improve existing practices. Emsley et al. and that greater exposure to professional development produces such interest and awareness. Simonton (2000) also provides evidence that creativity requires training and practice. Emsley. but has received relatively little attention in existing research in management accounting. and aware of. but that those ideas arise from a broad set of developed skills and a rich body of domain-relevant knowledge.
Innovators are also less tolerant of rules and feel less restricted by existing organizational practices than adaptors. which are necessary for individual innovativeness. according to those paradigms’ agreed deﬁnitions and likely solutions. He contends that individuals can be located on a continuum ranging from those who have an ability to do things ‘better’. include originality and rule/group conformity. First.’ whom he calls ‘innovators. problem-solving and decision-making processes (Kirton. speciﬁcally with respect to their initiation of radical and non-radical innovations. C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 2. In solving a problem. innovators challenge existing paradigms. Originality is the preference for idea production. Kirton (1976) proposes that individuals have different styles of creativity. 1994). Cognitive style Cognitive style reﬂects how individuals organize and process information with respect to creativity. 1994. preferring to trade-off efﬁciency for long-term effectiveness whereas adaptors prefer solutions that are short-term efﬁcient. 1998).246 D. whom he deﬁnes as ‘adaptors’. Emsley et al.1. innovators ‘detach the problem from its cocoon of accepted thought (and) generate ideas likely to deviate from the norm’ (Kirton. to those who have an ability to do things ‘differently. Amabile (1988) argues that creativity-relevant skills. 1984). rather than by applying established rules and procedures. with innovators generating more original ideas than adaptors. policies. practices) of their organisations’ (Kirton. By contrast. 2. Absence of conformity in thinking is reﬂected in exploring new cognitive pathways. problem solving and decision-making. Sadler-Smith and Badger. with the innovator style comprising higher levels of originality and lower levels of rule/group conformity and efﬁciency than the adaptor style. Theory development and hypotheses formulation This section presents theory leading to the hypothesis of the relationship between cognitive style and professional development as they affect the innovative behaviour of management accountants. however. Kirton (1994) argues that these constructs combine to produce behaviour consistent with the adaptive/innovative cognitive styles.’ Adaptors solve problems within existing paradigms. Kirton’s deﬁnition of an innovator is consistent with Amabile (1988) and Howell and Higgins (1990) with respect to the originality and rule/group conformity constructs. An individual high on creativity approaches problems in a manner that leads to rule-breaking and novel ideas (originality). The management accounting literature relevant to the importance of radical and non-radical innovations is discussed later in this section. They examine problems ‘in detail and proceed (to solutions) within the established mores (theories. the cognitive style literature is discussed as it leads to the relationship with innovation generally and management accounting innovation in particular. rule/group conformity and efﬁciency. Kirton’s concept of the adaptor/innovator is built upon three constructs: originality. Innovators are also less likely to seek short-term efﬁciency in solutions to problems.
approaches tasks from unsuspected angles’ (Kirton. Soin et al.. 1988. As noted earlier. The theory presented here for an association between adaptive/innovative cognitive style and organizational innovativeness suggests that an innovator will be more inclined to initiate radical innovations that deviate from existing organizational practices and norms whereas an adaptor will be more inclined to initiate non-radical C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . 2005). 2000. Emsley et al. 1991). but in the type of innovativeness towards which their cognitive style predisposes them. Kirton’s adaptive/innovative cognitive style distinguishes individuals who do things ‘better’ (adaptors) from those who do things ‘differently’ (innovators). 2. with both adaptors and innovators having the ability to initiate innovations. 1973. Howell and Higgins (1990) argue that innovative individuals are less conforming. non-radical (or incremental) innovations tend to reinforce the organization’s current capabilities (such as making changes to an established system of variance analysis or balanced scorecard) and do not challenge existing practices (Damanpour.2. problem solving and decision-making that affect their approach to innovation. Amabile (1988) and Howell and Higgins (1990) supports an expected relationship between an individual’s cognitive style and innovative behaviour. As noted earlier. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 247 breaking mindsets and rejecting agreed decision and action scripts (Amabile. such as cognitive style. have more conﬁdence in their abilities and seek opportunities to test their ideas.D. rather that individuals have different styles of creativity. the radicalism of innovations has also attracted recent interest in the management accounting literature (Burns and Scapens. value creativity and originality. 1997). 2002. Radical innovations produce fundamental changes in an organization’s activities (such as introducing variance analysis or the balanced scorecard for the ﬁrst time). In contrast. and represent signiﬁcant departures from existing practices. This suggests that the relation between adaptive/innovative cognitive style and innovativeness lies not in the amount or degree of innovativeness. the efﬁciency construct does not appear in the descriptions of either Amabile (1988) or Howell and Higgins (1990). the evidence does not suggest that innovators exhibit a greater tendency to initiate innovations per se. Propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations The evidence of Kirton (1976). These characteristics are consistent with Kirton’s innovator who often ‘challenges rules with little respect for past custom. Radicalism reﬂects how different the innovation is to existing practices (Gopalakrishnan and Damanpour. By contrast.. and to which the adaptive/innovative cognitive style is relevant. may affect different types of innovations in different ways. and will pursue novel ideas in spite of possible failure. tends to think tangentially. 1988). Emsley. 1991). The management accounting literature increasingly recognizes different types of innovation as important because it raises the possibility that explanatory factors. 1976). One category of innovation that is seen as important in the management literature. However. Damanpour. Similarly. is that of radical and non-radical innovations (Zaltman et al.
1978. 1994) draws on Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle (Kolb. Kirton (1994) contends that adaptors learn in a detailed. such ideas. 1999). 1984.248 D. Amabile. knowledge and expertise to understand the technical aspects of a new idea and to see its advantages to their organization (Daft. 1993. 2002). actively seek out new and challenging ideas.. 1991. 2002). and ﬁnd it important that a theory has logical soundness. and this affects their learning style (Moran. 2. Similarly. Cognitive style affects the manner in which people organize and process information. Simonton. In contrast. Clapp. in turn. an innovator is expected to be attracted and receptive to the radical. Rayner (2000) contends that individuals are continuously involved in building a repertoire of learning skills and strategies that is regulated by their cognitive style. and receptivity to. Loo. 1996. innovators learn discontinuously. This gives rise to a proposition that has not been tested in the management accounting literature. Kolb. However. Moran. 2000). 1988. 2000. Kirton (1976. cognitive style is likely to affect how an individual reacts to the material to which they are exposed in professional development. Interaction between cognitive style and professional development As discussed earlier. Plus. Sadler-Smith. 1984. namely. are a product of their cognitive style. 1999. Sadler-Smith. Clapp. and it is unlikely that the former is affected by the latter as an individual’s cognitive style is relatively stable across time and situation (Kirton. 1991. C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . Matthews. which maintains that people have consistent ways of responding to learning stimuli that. These characteristics of preferred learning styles suggest that innovators and adaptors are likely to react differently to the stimuli and opportunities provided by professional development. It does so through their participation in professional development activities. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 innovations. This argument comes from theoretical work on learning (e.3. Emsley et al. Loo. which expose them to new ideas and increase their awareness of. and receptivity is consistent with the discontinuity attribute of their learning style. Attraction is consistent with their learning style attuned to new and challenging ideas. which modify or reﬁne existing practices. professional development is argued to have a positive effect on the innovativeness of management accountants. seek to change situations and are willing to take risks in doing so. Innovators are more likely to seek out professional development activities and forums that emphasize radical ideas and innovations. Bobic et al. Rayner. With respect to the learning styles of adaptors and innovators. sequential and linear mode. when presented with an activity or forum that provides exposure to both radical and non-radical innovations. that management accountants who are more innovative than adaptive in cognitive style will initiate a greater number of radical relative to non-radical changes in management accounting practices. 1999. 1993. Cognitive style and professional development are independent constructs. 1984) to note that the relationship between cognitive style and learning style is applicable to the management training context. Professional development activities also provide the necessary domain-relevant skills.g.
The sample was drawn from companies whose management accountants were primarily members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland. adaptors are more likely to see radical ideas as not ﬁtting with their organizations’ existing practices. including using a short questionnaire that could be answered without the need for respondents to seek additional information. To gain a high response rate. As a result. in addition to satisfying the statutory accounting needs. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 249 and their lesser concern with the risks associated with radical change. Initial telephone contact was made with selected respondents to promote participation and ensure their professional status. increasing exposure to professional development (bringing increasing exposure to a greater number of innovations. Method Data were gathered through email or fax/mail survey questionnaire and a followup telephone or face-to-face interview with a sample of management accountants in organizations randomly selected from relevant business directories. The aim was to sample management accountants with professional accounting qualiﬁcations who were in positions to be able to initiate innovations. Emsley et al. especially given that radical ideas are likely to be relatively untested for logical soundness and application. especially the face-to-face ones. initiating a greater number of radical relative to non-radical innovations in their organizations. fax and telephone follow ups. Management accountants who are more innovative (adaptive) in cognitive style will initiate more radical relative to non-radical (non-radical relative to radical) management accounting innovations. Hence. At the follow-up interviews. The questionnaire was used to measure the independent variables of adaptive/innovative cognitive style and professional development. adaptors are less likely to exhibit this behaviour because their learning styles are attuned more to ideas that are incremental. Because of their particular learning style. it was possible to appreciate the wide variety of situations in which management accountants work and it was noticeable that. both radical and non-radical) is likely to result in innovators focusing on the radical more than the non-radical and. Only ﬁrms with more than 400 employees were included to ensure the presence of the management accounting function. and the questionnaire plus the follow-up interviews were used to measure the dependent variable of management accountants’ propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations. sequential and linear developments of their organization’s existing practices. adaptors are less likely to be attracted or receptive to new ideas that are radical. By contrast.D. Dillman’s (2000) techniques were followed. and this propensity will increase with greater exposure to professional development. by extension. the promise of feedback and conﬁdentiality and multiple email. 3. The theory presented in this section of the paper gives rise to the following hypothesis. many C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . and that have an established ﬁt with those practices. and are more likely to look for reasons why the radical idea ‘won’t work’.
Its stability over time and age has been demonstrated by Kirton (1984).5 per cent of the variance.1. Consequently. Responses to the originality items were reverse scored so that a high (low) score on all three constructs indicate a more innovative (adaptive) cognitive style. A principal component factor analysis was carried out on the 32 items. including ‘I (never) seek to bend or break the rules’ and ‘I work without deviation in a prescribed way’. Other studies have analyzed the three constructs separately (e. 2002) since the three constructs are theoretically independent. 1976. The originality dimension comprises 13 items. Kirton (1994) and Janssen et al. 3. explained 40.g. 1984. 1993.g.250 D. which is important to gain greater insight to the KAI. rule/group conformity and efﬁciency. C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . Kirton (1976) has also demonstrated the KAI’s independence from other personality constructs such as dogmatism. its test-retest and internal reliability have been demonstrated by Riley (1993). Gelade. Shiomi and Loo. the KAI and its three constructs have been subjected to extensive psychometric testing. Shown in Appendix I. with analysis restricted to three factors based on the theoretical three-construct composition of the KAI. Recall from the theory section that the originality and rule/group conformity constructs were consistent with Amabile (1988) and Howell and Higgins (1990). Bobic et al. Anchors for all questions are ‘Strongly agree = 1’ and ‘Strongly disagree = 5’. 11 of the 13 items comprising the originality 1 In this form. most of the items loaded strongly (deﬁned by Kirton. 1998. the KAI is a 32-item. and the efﬁciency dimension comprises seven items including ‘I work methodically and systematically’ and ‘I impose strict order on matters within (my) own control’.30) on the three factors in the expected manner. but there was less support in those studies for the efﬁciency construct. In this study. (1998) and its validity across different cultural and language settings by Tullett and Kirton (1995). extraversion and inﬂexibility. as loadings ≥0. 5-point fully anchored Likert-type scale that comprises three constructs: originality. The rule/group conformity dimension comprises 12 items. 1984) Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI).. Kubes. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 management accountants stated that satisfying business unit managers’ information needs was a high priority (respondents often referred to unit managers as ‘clients’ or ‘customers’). Emsley et al. With a varimax rotation. including items such as ‘I feel happy to create rather than improve’ and ‘I risk doing things differently’. 1999) score the KAI by summing the responses to the 32 items to form a single continuum from highly adaptive to highly innovative cognitive style. 1999. Adaptive/innovative cognitive style Adaptive/innovative cognitive style was measured using Kirton’s (1976. For factor 1 (originality). together. even relatively recently qualiﬁed management accountants were often given signiﬁcant autonomy to pursue improvements so long as business unit managers’ needs were being met. Clapp. Clapp (1993) and Bobic et al. (1999). we ﬁrst analyze the data in its composite form and then for each of the three constructs. 1994) and others (e. The three factors all had eigenvalues greater than 1 and.1 Kirton (1976.
2. which were conducted with each respondent following receipt of the completed uestionnaire. for factor 2 (rule/group conformity). C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . Emsley et al. 1999.30) were excluded from the analysis. The interview had two objectives: to conﬁrm that the respondent had initiated the 2 The observed range. Respondents were also given the opportunity to include any other innovations they had initiated (and approximately 10 per cent of respondents took up this opportunity). 1998). and was not used to classify the innovations as radical or non-radical. 1993. 6 of the 7 items loaded similarly. These associations require a speciﬁc number of hours of structured professional development activity each year. mean and Cronbach alpha of the 32-item scale in this study was consistent with other applications of the instrument in small sample contexts (e. Janssen et al. 1999) and is consistent in approach with Williams and Seaman (2001). and to acquire new or updated knowledge and skills. whereas for factor 3 (efﬁciency). 6 of the 12 items loaded strongly. it was largely consistent and differences are likely to lie in the smaller sample size in the current study compared to Kirton’s (1976) original sample size of 286 individuals. Although the factor analysis did not precisely parallel Kirton’s structure of the KAI. the longer the period of professional association membership. Propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations The dependent variable was management accountants’ propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations and was measured using the questionnaire and followup interviews. Professional development Professional development was measured as the number of years the management accountant had been a qualiﬁed member of a professional accounting association. The questionnaire contained a list of 29 management accounting innovations and asked respondents to indicate which of the innovations they had personally initiated over the previous 2 years. The list (Appendix II) was drawn from recent surveys of management accounting practices (Barbera et al. the more the accountant is required to take active part in structured professional development. meaning that the number of years of professional membership can serve as a proxy measure for professional development. 3.D.g. and provide forums for participants to be exposed to new management accounting ideas and practices. The questionnaire identiﬁed only the innovations a respondent had initiated. Items that did not load strongly (≥0.2 3. although the list of innovations was greater than in that study. Hence. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 251 component of the KAI loaded strongly.3. This classiﬁcation was subsequently made by the researcher through the follow-up interviews. The activities include conferences and professional development courses conducted by the associations or by accredited providers such as universities. Chenhall... Riley.
The researcher stated that ABC could be a new practice that signiﬁcantly altered the organization’s costing systems. Classiﬁcation was necessarily the subjective interpretation of the researcher. this allowed a relatively clear indication of whether the change was new. the adopting organization (Rogers. rather than closed questions that would have placed the classiﬁcation onus on the respondent with consequent concerns of selfrepresentational bias. Emsley et al. The following comment from a respondent illustrates a change that the researcher classiﬁed as radical. Although that lag was typically only a week. This was classiﬁed as radical because the respondent talked about calculating customer proﬁtability for ‘the ﬁrst time’ and was able to give a reason for it (as a result of introducing ERP). The ﬁrst and second stages of the protocol used open questions from which the researcher classiﬁed the innovations. This example allowed respondents to discuss the innovation they had initiated in a similar context and allowed the researcher to classify the change as radical (a new practice) or non-radical (reﬁnement of an existing practice). to the activity drivers. to guard against common method bias and demand characteristics. the respondent was asked to talk freely about each change they had initiated. We have just introduced a new CRM (Customer Relationship Management) plus integrated ﬁnancial system as a result of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and as a result we have been able to calculate customer proﬁtability for the ﬁrst time. a commonly known but still relatively recent practice. there was a time lag between the questionnaire returns and the interviews. Classifying a change required taking account of the context in which it occurred because a change cannot be classiﬁed as radical or non-radical in absolute terms but only in its relationship to. or ABC could have been in place as a costing system for some time but recent changes may have been made. Further comfort that respondent bias did not affect the classiﬁcation was that almost all respondents classiﬁed a range of both radical and non-radical innovations. the respondent was provided with the example of ABC. 1995). In most instances. Here. respondents’ answers to the KAI personality instrument were set aside before the interviews so that the researcher was unaware of the respondents’ KAI proﬁles during the interviews. or whether it was a reﬁnement or improvement of an existing practice (classiﬁed as a non-radical innovation). Where a clear determination was not possible. Finally. the many activities that would have intervened C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . or different from previous management accounting practices (classiﬁed as a radical innovation). say. irrespective of their KAI score. The third and ﬁnal stage of the protocol asked respondents directly to what degree (‘a lot’ or ‘a little’) they considered the change to be radically different from what had been done before.252 D. the second stage of the protocol was invoked. a three-stage interview protocol developed by Emsley (2005) was used. to provide consistency. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 change and to enable the researcher to classify it as radical or non-radical. a second coder was used on a subset of the respondents and no signiﬁcant inconsistencies emerged. To guard against researcher bias. However. To test the validity and reliability of the classiﬁcations. or effect on. First. This third stage was only needed once.
rule/group conformity and efﬁciency). Moreover. Consequently. and allows testing of the hypothesis relating cognitive style to the initiation of radical and non-radical changes. respondents were only broadly aware of what the research was about and did not know that it was concerned with radical and non-radical innovations. The propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations was measured as the proportion of total innovations initiated by the individual that were classiﬁed as radical. measured by the number of radical to total innovations initiated. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 253 for the respondents in their busy work environments over that time would have minimized their recollection of their responses to the questionnaire. 4. during the interviews. Correlation matrix The correlation matrix is presented in Table 2 and can be used to test the ﬁrst part of the hypothesis. which focuses on an individual’s style rather than level of innovation. Three were removed for incomplete data or for failure to take part in the interview. has a mean of 0. as this was considered more important than a higher number of responses but a lower response rate. the effect that KAI has on the propensity to initiate C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . The propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations.498 and a range of 1 (more innovative) to 0 (more adaptive). 4. where 1 represents situations in which only radical innovations are initiated. measured as years of professional association membership. resulting in a score ranging from 1 to 0. The descriptive statistics for the KAI are reported in its composite form as well as for each of the three constructs (originality.50 represents an even split of innovations and a score of 0 represents only non-radical innovations. a score of 0. with 44 returned for a response rate of 86 per cent. Greater effort was directed to ensuring a high response rate among the randomly selected respondents. ranges from 2 to 26 with a mean of 8. 1984) but also sufﬁcient to support statistical analysis. Emsley et al.1. 4. Descriptive statistics The descriptive statistics are shown in Table 1. Gordon and Narayanan. Although this might be a small sample size by mail survey standards. personal interview studies are extremely timeconsuming and this sample size is not only consistent with studies using a similar method (e.g. 41 individual management accountants completed questionnaires and were subsequently interviewed. This is consistent with the measure of adaptive/innovative cognitive style. suggesting that the sample is not overly represented by a particular type of change and provided a spread of both innovators and adaptors. namely.2.D. A reasonable range for all constructs is observed as well as consistency between the mean and median. Results Fifty-one questionnaires were distributed. Professional development.
Table 2 Correlation matrix for dependent and independent variables Variable Professional development 0.195 17. These correlations provide empirical justiﬁcation for breaking the KAI into the three constructs because they show that not all three constructs have the same association with propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations.000 75.145. In addition.415 18.254 D. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 Table 1 Descriptive statistics Variable Mean Median SD Observed range Minimum Propensity to initiate radical/non-radical innovations Professional development KAI Originality Rule/group conformity Efﬁciency 0.360∗ 0.498 0. Emsley et al.242 Originality 0. radical and non-radical innovations.5 0.110 5.357∗ 0. only the rule/group conformity construct was signiﬁcantly correlated. p > 0. p < 0. there are signiﬁcant correlations between the propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations and the originality construct (r = 0. 2001). not applicable. p < 0. ∗∗ Signiﬁcant at the 1 per cent level.353∗ KAI 0.459∗∗ ∗ Signiﬁcant at the 5 per cent level.040 0.742∗∗ 0.386.05).439 2 54 28 13 8 26 100 54 24 29 0 23 11 6 6 NA 115 55 30 30 KAI.495 9.268 7 74 40 18 17 5.794∗∗ Rule/group conformity 0.447.05). Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Inventory. A signiﬁcant and positive correlation between propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations and KAI provides support for this part of the hypothesis (r = 0.479∗∗ Efﬁciency Propensity to initiate radical/non-radical innovations Professional development KAI Originality Rule/group conformity 0. Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Inventory.442 4.254 0.754∗∗ 0.145 0. For years of professional development. In terms of regression C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . These correlations support the independence of professional development and cognitive style.447∗∗ 0.228 0 Maximum 1 Theoretical range Minimum 0 Maximum 1 8. p < 0.05) and the rule/group conformity construct (r = 0.01) of KAI.880 40. KAI.240 0. but not the efﬁciency construct (r = 0.386∗ 0. NA. and not at a level at which multicollinearity might be considered a problem (Tabachnick and Fidell.357.000 2.
3. K ∗ P = interaction of the KAI (in composite form as well as the three constructs of originality.g. K = the KAI in composite form as well as the three constructs of originality. meaning that four regressions were run in total. homoscedasticity and linearity were met. 1992) bearing in mind potential concerns with the method (Hartmann and Moers. indicating C The Authors Journal compilation (1) C 2006 AFAANZ . To determine if there is a moderating effect of professional development on the relation between KAI and innovative behaviour. Y = b0 + b1 K + b2 P + b3 K ∗ P + e where Y = innovative behaviour measured by the proportion of innovations that were radical. Emsley et al.D. The hypothesis stated that management accountants who are more innovative (adaptive) in cognitive style will initiate relatively more radical to nonradical (non-radical to radical) management accounting innovations. The KAI was initially tested in its composite form combining the three constructs of originality. A positive and signiﬁcant b 3 coefﬁcient indicates that a relatively higher (lower) KAI score is associated with an increasing number of radical to non-radical innovations (non-radical to radical innovations) and that this increases for greater levels of professional development. 5 per cent level of signiﬁcance. rule/group conformity and efﬁciency) and professional development. b 3 needs to be examined. To test whether the moderating effect of professional development is signiﬁcant. rule/group conformity and efﬁciency. Dunk. and that this propensity will increase with greater exposure to professional development. rule/group conformity and efﬁciency.012). the sign and signiﬁcance of the interaction term. p = 0.38. computed as the product of the two terms. is positive and signiﬁcant (t = 2. 4. each of the three constructs was analyzed separately. The ﬁrst regression used the composite score for all three constructs as a single variable to estimate equation (1) with results presented in Table 3. P = professional development measured by number of years of professional association membership. The hypothesis was tested with the regression model given as equation (1) using a onetailed. Regression analysis Regression analysis was used to test the second part of the hypothesis that examines the interaction effect of professional development on the relation between KAI and innovative behaviour. 1999). the analysis undertaken is similar to that established in previous contingency studies (e. b 3 . The coefﬁcient of the interaction term. Subsequently. the relevant residual plots and plots of residuals against ﬁtted values provided evidence that the assumptions of normality. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 255 analysis that is used in the next section to test the moderating effect of professional development on the relationship between KAI and innovative behaviour.
the propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations. rule/group conformity and efﬁciency constructs of the KAI. respectively.9 per cent of the variation in the dependent variable. p = 0.4%. The coefﬁcient of the interaction term. b 3 .150 0. is positive but not signiﬁcant (t = 0. propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations.036 for the rule/group conformity regression). and (ii) the rule/group conformity dimension of KAI and professional development. third and fourth regressions used the originality. The adusted R2 indicates that the interaction model explains only 6.715 −0.4 per cent of the variation in the dependent variable. 5.50.5% and 25.92. KAI. n = 41.068 0.54 −0.312). with results presented in Table 4.002. to estimate equation (1). The adjusted R2 indicates that the interaction model explains 26.012 R2 = 32.006 0. Emsley et al.67 −2. These results indicate that the number of radical (relative to non-radical) management accounting changes initiated by an individual is conditional on the interaction between: (i) the originality dimension of KAI and professional development. as measured by KAI. First. The adjusted R2 s indicate that the originality and rule/group conformity interaction models explain 28. Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Inventory. p = 0.066 0.004 −0.013 for the originality regression and t = 1.9%.254 0.20 2. adjusted R2 = 26.32.017 0. respectively. F 3.86. The second. Panel C of Table 4 reports regression results for the efﬁciency construct.002 SE 0. affects the C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . The coefﬁcients of the interaction terms. of the variance in the dependent variable.464 0.38 p 0. p = 0. Panels A and B report regression results for the originality and rule/group conformity constructs. Summary and conclusions The results of the study provide broad support for our expectations.1%. it was found that adaptive/innovative cognitive style. p = 0. are positive and signiﬁcant in both regressions (t = 2. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 Table 3 Regression of the interaction between the KAI and professional development on the propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations Variable Constant KAI composite Professional development Interaction Coefﬁcient b0 b1 b2 b3 Value 0. indicating that the number of radical (relative to non-radical) management accounting changes initiated by an individual is not conditional upon the interaction between the efﬁciency dimension of cognitive style (KAI) and professional development. b 3 .000 t 1. that the number of radical (to non-radical) management accounting changes initiated by an individual is conditional upon the interaction between adaptive/innovative cognitive style (KAI) and professional development. respectively.256 D.37 = 5.
37 = 6. p = 0.521 0.73 1.000 a R2 0. the results were strongest for originality and rule/group conformity.37 = 1.012 Professional development b2 −0. adjusted R2 = 25.013 0.106 0.408 0.662 Rule/group conformity b1 −0.084 0.263 0. propensity of management accountants to initiate radical and non-radical innovations.09 0. increasing exposure to professional development is associated with initiation of fewer radical to non-radical management accounting changes.039 0.312 = 33.395 0. n = 41.4%.7%.9%. it was found that adaptive/innovative cognitive style and professional development interact.37 = 5. In contrast. further discussion of these separate effects is warranted. n = 41. management accountants who are innovators (on the originality and rule/group conformity constructs) initiate more radical to non-radical changes with increasing exposure to professional development.19 1. adjusted R2 = 6. but not signiﬁcantly. However.004 Professional development b2 0.D.002 0. which were both positively and signiﬁcantly correlated with the propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations.145. p = 0. Consequently.040 0.009 Professional development b2 −0. the efﬁciency construct was positively.005 Panel B: Regression for the KAI rule/group conformity constructb Constant b0 0. As the different constructs of the KAI seem to have different effects on innovation. management accountants who are innovators (on the originality and rule/group conformity constructs) have a cognitive style that predisposes them to initiate more radical to non-radical management accounting changes. When examining each of the three constructs of the KAI separately.001. For management accountants who are adaptors (on the originality and rule/group conformity constructs). management accountants who are adaptors (on the originality and rule/group conformity constructs) have a cognitive style that predisposes them to initiate fewer radical to non-radical changes. the results were signiﬁcant for originality and rule/group conformity but not for efﬁciency.072 0.32.444 Efﬁciency b1 −0. That is.426 0. n = 41.4%.016 0. correlated.46.049 0.003 Interaction b3 0.465 0. again.1%. F 3.50 0.24 −0.054 Originality b1 0.030 0. c R2 = 13.5%. when examining the three constructs separately.91.007 Panel C: Regression for the KAI efﬁciency constructc Constant b0 0. adjusted R2 = 28. F 3.41 −1. C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ .27 −0.337 0.32 1.94 2.002 0.125 Interaction b3 0.003.96 −0.077 Interaction b3 0.047 0. Second.282 0. p = 0. F 3.86 1.007 0. b R2 = 30. In contrast.028 0. Emsley et al. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 257 Table 4 Regression of the interaction between each of the three constructs of KAI and professional development on the propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations Variable Coefﬁcient Value SE t p Panel A: Regression for the KAI originality constructa Constant b0 0.43 −1.036 0.
In contrast. at least relative to the other two constructs. However. exposure to original ideas through professional development activities is likely to magnify this cognitive style effect because these activities provide a database of ideas existing outside the organization from which the individual might choose. by deﬁnition. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 Radical innovations occur when novel ideas are introduced into the organization. individuals whose cognitive style tends towards rule/group conformity are more predisposed to innovations that ﬁt within paradigms that are consistent with existing organizational practices. while rule/group conformity and originality are intuitively appealing as constructs of an individual’s innovativeness. as a stimulus for change.1. radical innovations involve challenging existing practices and require abandonment of conformity to paradigms underlying those practices. As radical ideas. This study lends support to the lesser relevance of efﬁciency in the context of individual innovativeness. 5. Contributions and implications of the study The present study contributes to the published literature on management accounting innovation and has several practical implications. the argument for efﬁciency is less compelling. An individual who is high on the originality construct of the KAI cognitive style is predisposed to seek out. Similarly. This requires the presence of an individual who has the propensity to initiate such ideas. or that being efﬁcient is an inhibitor on propensity to initiate radical changes. a propensity that is clearly related to the originality construct of the KAI. Emsley et al. It was noted earlier that while originality and rule/group conformity are components of Amabile’s (1988) and Howell and Higgins’ (1990) models of individual creativity. as much as individuals predisposed to initiate non-radical changes. individuals whose cognitive style tends away from rule/group conformity are more predisposed to radical innovations that challenge and change those paradigms. as individuals who do not feel the necessity to conform will participate in activities that tend away from and challenge rule/group norms. the C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . Individuals who are otherwise predisposed to initiate radical changes might well be concerned with efﬁciency. as well as be inclined to initiate them in their own organization. there appears to be no reason why innovators are less efﬁcient than adaptors. individuals predisposed to non-radical innovations could well be concerned with long-term effectiveness as a criterion for non-radical change. Kirton (1994) argues that adaptors prefer solutions to problems that are short-term efﬁcient. It is not intuitively obvious that this distinction translates to preferences for radical and non-radical innovations. Additionally. Consequently. With respect to the literature. those who conform to rule/group norms are likely to seek out and be attuned to professional development activities (or ideas presented within those activities) that are consistent with those norms. With regard to rule/group conformity. Again.258 D. efﬁciency is not. come from outside the organization. exposure to professional development ampliﬁes these predispositions. whereas innovators prefer solutions that are long-term effective. those ideas that are novel and original. and be attuned to. By contrast.
2. role of the individual management accountant in the process of management accounting change. hence. Individuals with different cognitive styles bring different strengths and perspectives to innovation. whereas the theory in the paper asserts causality. initiation is only one of a number of stages of adoption. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 259 present study provides insight into the critical. Therefore. It might. namely. Emsley et al.D. recruiting and/or assigning an accountant whose cognitive style predisposes them to non-radical innovations might be counterproductive. maintaining a balance of innovators and adaptors in the management accounting function is important in providing a commensurate balance between radical and non-radical changes to accounting practices. and if age is also related to seniority. take steps to actively resist a radical innovation. However. the organization needs to know which is which. Nonetheless. the present study relies on cross-sectional survey data. and particularly so given that the adaptive/innovative cognitive style is likely to be most relevant at this stage. yet relatively underresearched. Moreover. the study focused only on the initiation stage of innovation. Second. the present study suggests that only two of the three constructs of the KAI measure of cognitive style seem to be important. Knowledge of innovators and adaptors might also be useful for development purposes whereby professional development activities are scheduled bearing in mind the needs of the organization and the predisposition of management accountants to radical and non-radical innovations. or worse. rather than professional development that enables older management accountants to initiate C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . be argued that organizations should aim to recruit management accountants with an innovative cognitive style (and use a psychometric instrument such as the KAI to do so). it might be organizational inﬂuence through seniority. With respect to practical implications. If a radical innovation is required. 1998). therefore. which are innovators and which are adaptors for recruitment and task assignment. They are more likely to initiate the ‘ground-breaking’ innovations that challenge and change existing practices. a more balanced interpretation of the results is that organizations should seek a mix of adaptors and innovators. and the study must be seen in that light. Other factors such as age might be correlated with this proxy measure. 5. This stage is important in its own right. Speciﬁcally. the ﬁndings indicate that management accountants who possess an innovative cognitive style are more likely to initiate radical changes to the practices of their organizations. because they might seek to introduce a non-radical innovation where a radical one is needed. display a lack of interest in the radical innovation. A third limitation is that professional development was not measured directly but proxied by number of years of membership of a professional accounting association. originality and rule/group conformity. implementation and routinization of innovation (Krumwiede. the present study shows the importance of two factors that affect management accountants’ innovative behaviour: adaptive/innovative cognitive style and professional development. Limitations of the present study First. that is. the analysis only allows associational statements. However.
a counterargument is that. Although the current survey study is able to assert causality only through theory. Simonton (2000) points out that certain factors operate to maintain creative output through one’s life. the most likely of which is the accumulation of domain skills and expertise. and interwoven with a variety of factors that might affect individual innovativeness. the effect of increasing professional development on initiating innovations is less ambiguous and is only likely to positively affect initiation. implementation and routinization. individuals become ﬁxed in their ways. as noted earlier. Research could examine whether individuals with different adaptor/innovator cognitive styles exhibit different strengths and weaknesses at stages subsequent to initiation. Taking these factors into account would result in an improved measure of professional development. a focal variable of the present study. In addition. it might be argued that. However. this obligation can be fulﬁlled in different ways including committee work as well as conference attendance. She contends that no amount of domain skill can compensate for a lack of intrinsic motivation. In contrast. in turn. to some extent. includes intrinsic task motivation as an additional component in her model of individual creativity. might stultify the initiation of innovations. the present study was restricted to initiation of innovations. Finally. requires a greater level of professional development than others (such as the creative arts) to achieve a similar level of creativity. Third. which is. We have captured only two of those factors. Amabile (1988). a high degree of motivation might compensate for a deﬁciency of skills or a particular cognitive style. Amabile (1996) also argues that a professional domain. Suggestions for further research The ﬁeld of innovation and creativity research is vast and complex. Second. providing much scope for future research. the measure of professional development could be improved by using a more direct measure. management accountants might attend non-management accounting activities and might do more than the minimum number of hours mandated. and that this effect is likely to be more crucial for creative work in some domains than others. Indeed. including persuasion. and these activities are likely to have different effects on innovative behaviour. in fact. Although professional bodies mandate a minimum number of hours of professional development. C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ .3. for example. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 more of their preferred type of innovation. such as management accounting. These arguments suggest that age is unlikely to confound our results because the correlate of age most likely to inﬂuence accountants’ innovativeness is. different research methods provide opportunities for future research in this area. Emsley et al. with increasing age. professional development.260 D. which. 5. itself. Future research could incorporate intrinsic task motivation into the interaction model tested in the present study to examine its effect on individuals’ innovative behaviour. Future research could examine the effect of adaptive/innovative cognitive style and professional development on subsequent stages of innovation adoption.
This would necessitate prior measurement of subjects’ adaptor/innovator cognitive style and professional development. Appendix I Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI) Originality I stimulate new ideas I proliferate new ideas I can cope with several new ideas at the same time I always think of something when stuck I feel happy to create rather than improve I provide fresh perspectives on old problems I risk doing things differently I like to vary set routines at a moment’s notice I prefer to work on one problem at a time I feel able to disagree within a group I need the stimulation of frequent change I prefer change to occur gradually I have original ideas Rule/group conformity I ﬁt readily into ‘the system’ I conform to the system I readily agree with the team at work I seek to bend or break the rules I act without proper authority I like the protection of precise instructions I believe I am predictable I prefer colleagues who never ‘rock the boat’ I like bosses and work patterns to be consistent I work without deviation in a prescribed way I hold back on ideas until they are obviously needed I believe I am prudent when dealing with authority Efﬁciency I complete tasks thoroughly I master the details of tasks painstakingly I work methodically and systematically I enjoy detailed work I regard myself as a steady plodder I believe myself to be consistent I impose strict order on matters within own control C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . require creativity. but could then involve a problem-based experimental task designed to allow opportunities for radical or non-radical solutions to the problem to test subjects’ innovative behaviour. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 261 it is feasible that an experiment could be constructed to test causality empirically. Emsley et al. Such an experiment would.D. itself. but would provide stronger support for causality.
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