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15_Effect of Cognitive Style Etc

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Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264

Effect of cognitive style and professional development on the initiation of radical and non-radical management accounting innovations
David Emsleya , Barbara Nevickyb , Graeme Harrisonb
b

School of Business, University of Sydney, Sydney, 2006, Australia Department of Accounting and Finance, Macquarie University, Sydney, 2105, Australia

a

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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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. However. Moreover. Daft (1978) suggests that new ideas are brought to an organization by experts who are interested in.. Radicalness refers to the degree of change in management accounting practices. 2002. say. all of which are affected by professional development (Amabile. it must be recognized that innovations are not all the same but differ in systematic ways. 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. and radicalness is also now being recognized as differentiating innovations in the management accounting literature (Burns and Scapens. the new idea. little attention has been focussed on the cognitive style of the accountant in management accounting innovation research. As management accountants are typically members of professional bodies. but that those ideas arise from a broad set of developed skills and a rich body of domain-relevant knowledge. Emsley. Emsley et al. although examining cognitive style and professional development will enhance understanding the factors affecting management accounting innovations. technical skills and special talents in the domain. For example. 1988). Amabile (1988) also captures professional development in her model of individual creativity through the domain-relevant skills component. but has received relatively little attention in existing research in management accounting.D. 1973). Radical innovations are appropriate where new and different practices are needed to. and comprise factual knowledge. He argues that creative individuals do not produce new ideas in a vacuum.. These relationships are now examined in more detail. 2000. and that greater exposure to professional development produces such interest and awareness. Soin et al. complement a change in strategy. Despite these arguments. both radical and non-radical innovations might be required at the same time but to different parts of the management accounting system. Simonton (2000) also provides evidence that creativity requires training and practice. Soin et al. which mandate minimum levels of professional development activities for continued membership. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 245 cognitive style as an antecedent of innovative behaviour. 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. and aware of. Innovations have long been regarded as differing in their radicalness in the management literature (Zaltman et al. The importance of professional development in affecting an individual’s innovativeness is also drawn from the innovation and creativity literature. (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. C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . 2005). whereas non-radical innovations are more appropriate where the aim is to improve existing practices. 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.

Cognitive style Cognitive style reflects how individuals organize and process information with respect to creativity. Emsley et al.246 D. In solving a problem. according to those paradigms’ agreed definitions and likely solutions. 1994). The management accounting literature relevant to the importance of radical and non-radical innovations is discussed later in this section. rule/group conformity and efficiency. Amabile (1988) argues that creativity-relevant skills.’ whom he calls ‘innovators. 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. include originality and rule/group conformity. with innovators generating more original ideas than adaptors. 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. Innovators are also less likely to seek short-term efficiency in solutions to problems. He contends that individuals can be located on a continuum ranging from those who have an ability to do things ‘better’. whom he defines as ‘adaptors’. 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. Absence of conformity in thinking is reflected in exploring new cognitive pathways. 1984). specifically with respect to their initiation of radical and non-radical innovations. however. Originality is the preference for idea production. the cognitive style literature is discussed as it leads to the relationship with innovation generally and management accounting innovation in particular. Innovators are also less tolerant of rules and feel less restricted by existing organizational practices than adaptors.’ Adaptors solve problems within existing paradigms. practices) of their organisations’ (Kirton. preferring to trade-off efficiency for long-term effectiveness whereas adaptors prefer solutions that are short-term efficient. with the innovator style comprising higher levels of originality and lower levels of rule/group conformity and efficiency than the adaptor style. C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . An individual high on creativity approaches problems in a manner that leads to rule-breaking and novel ideas (originality). policies. 1998). First. 1994. problem solving and decision-making. By contrast. Sadler-Smith and Badger. innovators challenge existing paradigms. Kirton’s concept of the adaptor/innovator is built upon three constructs: originality. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 2. rather than by applying established rules and procedures. Kirton (1976) proposes that individuals have different styles of creativity. 2.1. which are necessary for individual innovativeness. problem-solving and decision-making processes (Kirton. They examine problems ‘in detail and proceed (to solutions) within the established mores (theories. Kirton (1994) argues that these constructs combine to produce behaviour consistent with the adaptive/innovative cognitive styles.

may affect different types of innovations in different ways. 1988). However. 2000. Damanpour. approaches tasks from unsuspected angles’ (Kirton. value creativity and originality. These characteristics are consistent with Kirton’s innovator who often ‘challenges rules with little respect for past custom.. 1988. 2002. and represent significant departures from existing practices. The management accounting literature increasingly recognizes different types of innovation as important because it raises the possibility that explanatory factors. tends to think tangentially. 1997). but in the type of innovativeness towards which their cognitive style predisposes them. is that of radical and non-radical innovations (Zaltman et al. and will pursue novel ideas in spite of possible failure. Similarly. Emsley et al. Radical innovations produce fundamental changes in an organization’s activities (such as introducing variance analysis or the balanced scorecard for the first time). Soin et al. This suggests that the relation between adaptive/innovative cognitive style and innovativeness lies not in the amount or degree of innovativeness. Amabile (1988) and Howell and Higgins (1990) supports an expected relationship between an individual’s cognitive style and innovative behaviour. have more confidence in their abilities and seek opportunities to test their ideas. rather that individuals have different styles of creativity. 2. 2005).2. problem solving and decision-making that affect their approach to innovation.. Kirton’s adaptive/innovative cognitive style distinguishes individuals who do things ‘better’ (adaptors) from those who do things ‘differently’ (innovators). Emsley. One category of innovation that is seen as important in the management literature. Radicalism reflects how different the innovation is to existing practices (Gopalakrishnan and Damanpour. Howell and Higgins (1990) argue that innovative individuals are less conforming. and to which the adaptive/innovative cognitive style is relevant. 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 . 1991). such as cognitive style. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 247 breaking mindsets and rejecting agreed decision and action scripts (Amabile. with both adaptors and innovators having the ability to initiate innovations. As noted earlier. 1991). In contrast. 1973. the efficiency construct does not appear in the descriptions of either Amabile (1988) or Howell and Higgins (1990). By contrast. 1976). the evidence does not suggest that innovators exhibit a greater tendency to initiate innovations per se. the radicalism of innovations has also attracted recent interest in the management accounting literature (Burns and Scapens. Propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations The evidence of Kirton (1976). 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.D.

g. Rayner. Bobic et al. 1991. Matthews. 2002). which expose them to new ideas and increase their awareness of. Amabile. This argument comes from theoretical work on learning (e. 2000). 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. an innovator is expected to be attracted and receptive to the radical. 1991. 1994) draws on Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle (Kolb. Clapp. 1984. Professional development activities also provide the necessary domain-relevant skills. Moran. 2000. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 innovations. Kirton (1994) contends that adaptors learn in a detailed. such ideas. Rayner (2000) contends that individuals are continuously involved in building a repertoire of learning skills and strategies that is regulated by their cognitive style. Emsley et al. In contrast. 1996. Loo. and find it important that a theory has logical soundness. 1984. However. and receptivity is consistent with the discontinuity attribute of their learning style. seek to change situations and are willing to take risks in doing so. professional development is argued to have a positive effect on the innovativeness of management accountants. It does so through their participation in professional development activities. which maintains that people have consistent ways of responding to learning stimuli that. namely. innovators learn discontinuously.248 D. 1978. Cognitive style and professional development are independent constructs. C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . cognitive style is likely to affect how an individual reacts to the material to which they are exposed in professional development. 1999. Similarly. Attraction is consistent with their learning style attuned to new and challenging ideas. 1999. Simonton. 1993. Sadler-Smith. Plus.. are a product of their cognitive style. With respect to the learning styles of adaptors and innovators.3. 1984) to note that the relationship between cognitive style and learning style is applicable to the management training context. 1993. Clapp. Kirton (1976. sequential and linear mode. 2002). Interaction between cognitive style and professional development As discussed earlier. actively seek out new and challenging ideas. 2. 1999). Innovators are more likely to seek out professional development activities and forums that emphasize radical ideas and innovations. 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. in turn. knowledge and expertise to understand the technical aspects of a new idea and to see its advantages to their organization (Daft. and receptivity to. Kolb. Sadler-Smith. Loo. This gives rise to a proposition that has not been tested in the management accounting literature. 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. 1988. which modify or refine existing practices. and this affects their learning style (Moran. Cognitive style affects the manner in which people organize and process information.

many C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . including using a short questionnaire that could be answered without the need for respondents to seek additional information. To gain a high response rate. 3. Initial telephone contact was made with selected respondents to promote participation and ensure their professional status. adaptors are less likely to be attracted or receptive to new ideas that are radical. it was possible to appreciate the wide variety of situations in which management accountants work and it was noticeable that. in addition to satisfying the statutory accounting needs. 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. especially given that radical ideas are likely to be relatively untested for logical soundness and application. The questionnaire was used to measure the independent variables of adaptive/innovative cognitive style and professional development. Only firms with more than 400 employees were included to ensure the presence of the management accounting function.D. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 249 and their lesser concern with the risks associated with radical change. by extension. The aim was to sample management accountants with professional accounting qualifications who were in positions to be able to initiate innovations. 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. especially the face-to-face ones. Because of their particular learning style. fax and telephone follow ups. At the follow-up interviews. The sample was drawn from companies whose management accountants were primarily members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland. Emsley et al. both radical and non-radical) is likely to result in innovators focusing on the radical more than the non-radical and. and this propensity will increase with greater exposure to professional development. By contrast. 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. adaptors are more likely to see radical ideas as not fitting with their organizations’ existing practices. and are more likely to look for reasons why the radical idea ‘won’t work’. Hence. As a result. adaptors are less likely to exhibit this behaviour because their learning styles are attuned more to ideas that are incremental. Dillman’s (2000) techniques were followed. The theory presented in this section of the paper gives rise to the following hypothesis. initiating a greater number of radical relative to non-radical innovations in their organizations. sequential and linear developments of their organization’s existing practices. the promise of feedback and confidentiality and multiple email. and that have an established fit with those practices. increasing exposure to professional development (bringing increasing exposure to a greater number of innovations.

the KAI and its three constructs have been subjected to extensive psychometric testing. explained 40. most of the items loaded strongly (defined by Kirton. Kubes. 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. and the efficiency dimension comprises seven items including ‘I work methodically and systematically’ and ‘I impose strict order on matters within (my) own control’. 1976. Shown in Appendix I. (1999). 1998. Kirton (1976) has also demonstrated the KAI’s independence from other personality constructs such as dogmatism. even relatively recently qualified management accountants were often given significant autonomy to pursue improvements so long as business unit managers’ needs were being met. but there was less support in those studies for the efficiency construct. rule/group conformity and efficiency.1 Kirton (1976. with analysis restricted to three factors based on the theoretical three-construct composition of the KAI. The originality dimension comprises 13 items. Recall from the theory section that the originality and rule/group conformity constructs were consistent with Amabile (1988) and Howell and Higgins (1990). Consequently. 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. we first analyze the data in its composite form and then for each of the three constructs. Shiomi and Loo. 1994) and others (e. 1984. The rule/group conformity dimension comprises 12 items..g. together. including items such as ‘I feel happy to create rather than improve’ and ‘I risk doing things differently’. 1999. 2002) since the three constructs are theoretically independent. In this study. For factor 1 (originality). Emsley et al. which is important to gain greater insight to the KAI. 1993. 5-point fully anchored Likert-type scale that comprises three constructs: originality. Clapp. (1998) and its validity across different cultural and language settings by Tullett and Kirton (1995). A principal component factor analysis was carried out on the 32 items. / 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’).5 per cent of the variance. 3. including ‘I (never) seek to bend or break the rules’ and ‘I work without deviation in a prescribed way’. 1984) Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI). With a varimax rotation. the KAI is a 32-item.250 D. The three factors all had eigenvalues greater than 1 and. Gelade. 11 of the 13 items comprising the originality 1 In this form. Its stability over time and age has been demonstrated by Kirton (1984). its test-retest and internal reliability have been demonstrated by Riley (1993).1. Anchors for all questions are ‘Strongly agree = 1’ and ‘Strongly disagree = 5’. as loadings ≥0. Bobic et al.30) on the three factors in the expected manner. Clapp (1993) and Bobic et al.g. extraversion and inflexibility. Other studies have analyzed the three constructs separately (e. Adaptive/innovative cognitive style Adaptive/innovative cognitive style was measured using Kirton’s (1976. C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . Kirton (1994) and Janssen et al.

whereas for factor 3 (efficiency).. 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. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 251 component of the KAI loaded strongly. The interview had two objectives: to confirm that the respondent had initiated the 2 The observed range. Hence. although the list of innovations was greater than in that study. This classification was subsequently made by the researcher through the follow-up interviews. for factor 2 (rule/group conformity).. C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ .3. 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.2. the more the accountant is required to take active part in structured professional development. 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). Emsley et al. which were conducted with each respondent following receipt of the completed uestionnaire. Riley. The activities include conferences and professional development courses conducted by the associations or by accredited providers such as universities. These associations require a specific number of hours of structured professional development activity each year. 1998). and to acquire new or updated knowledge and skills. 3. and was not used to classify the innovations as radical or non-radical. Janssen et al. and provide forums for participants to be exposed to new management accounting ideas and practices.D. Professional development Professional development was measured as the number of years the management accountant had been a qualified member of a professional accounting association. 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. The list (Appendix II) was drawn from recent surveys of management accounting practices (Barbera et al.g.2 3. Items that did not load strongly (≥0. The questionnaire identified only the innovations a respondent had initiated. 1993. the longer the period of professional association membership. 1999) and is consistent in approach with Williams and Seaman (2001). 1999. 6 of the 7 items loaded similarly. Chenhall. 6 of the 12 items loaded strongly. 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. meaning that the number of years of professional membership can serve as a proxy measure for professional development. Although the factor analysis did not precisely parallel Kirton’s structure of the KAI.30) were excluded from the analysis.

to the activity drivers. there was a time lag between the questionnaire returns and the interviews. or whether it was a refinement or improvement of an existing practice (classified as a non-radical innovation). To test the validity and reliability of the classifications. or ABC could have been in place as a costing system for some time but recent changes may have been made. to provide consistency. the adopting organization (Rogers. 1995). this allowed a relatively clear indication of whether the change was new. 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. 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. To guard against researcher bias. 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. a three-stage interview protocol developed by Emsley (2005) was used. the many activities that would have intervened C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . 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. a commonly known but still relatively recent practice. to guard against common method bias and demand characteristics. 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). say. 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. the respondent was provided with the example of ABC. The first and second stages of the protocol used open questions from which the researcher classified the innovations. Where a clear determination was not possible. the respondent was asked to talk freely about each change they had initiated. Classification was necessarily the subjective interpretation of the researcher. or different from previous management accounting practices (classified as a radical innovation). The researcher stated that ABC could be a new practice that significantly altered the organization’s costing systems. the second stage of the protocol was invoked. irrespective of their KAI score. Although that lag was typically only a week. First. Emsley et al. a second coder was used on a subset of the respondents and no significant inconsistencies emerged. or effect on. The following comment from a respondent illustrates a change that the researcher classified as radical. rather than closed questions that would have placed the classification onus on the respondent with consequent concerns of selfrepresentational bias. Here. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 change and to enable the researcher to classify it as radical or non-radical. Finally.252 D. In most instances. However. This third stage was only needed once. 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).

Correlation matrix The correlation matrix is presented in Table 2 and can be used to test the first part of the hypothesis. with 44 returned for a response rate of 86 per cent. the effect that KAI has on the propensity to initiate C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . where 1 represents situations in which only radical innovations are initiated.50 represents an even split of innovations and a score of 0 represents only non-radical innovations. Three were removed for incomplete data or for failure to take part in the interview. Professional development. / 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. measured as years of professional association membership. and allows testing of the hypothesis relating cognitive style to the initiation of radical and non-radical changes. 4. Gordon and Narayanan. 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. rule/group conformity and efficiency). Greater effort was directed to ensuring a high response rate among the randomly selected respondents. The propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations. ranges from 2 to 26 with a mean of 8. which focuses on an individual’s style rather than level of innovation. 1984) but also sufficient to support statistical analysis. as this was considered more important than a higher number of responses but a lower response rate. 41 individual management accountants completed questionnaires and were subsequently interviewed. A reasonable range for all constructs is observed as well as consistency between the mean and median. Results Fifty-one questionnaires were distributed.g. 4. Descriptive statistics The descriptive statistics are shown in Table 1. Moreover. This is consistent with the measure of adaptive/innovative cognitive style. a score of 0.1. 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.D. has a mean of 0. namely.498 and a range of 1 (more innovative) to 0 (more adaptive). Although this might be a small sample size by mail survey standards. during the interviews. suggesting that the sample is not overly represented by a particular type of change and provided a spread of both innovators and adaptors. The descriptive statistics for the KAI are reported in its composite form as well as for each of the three constructs (originality. Consequently.2. resulting in a score ranging from 1 to 0. Emsley et al. measured by the number of radical to total innovations initiated. personal interview studies are extremely timeconsuming and this sample size is not only consistent with studies using a similar method (e.

5 0.439 2 54 28 13 8 26 100 54 24 29 0 23 11 6 6 NA 115 55 30 30 KAI.794∗∗ Rule/group conformity 0. 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. / 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. p < 0.254 D.05).447∗∗ 0. p < 0.145 0.386.195 17. NA. 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 = 0.01) of KAI. ∗∗ Significant at the 1 per cent level.415 18. p > 0.386∗ 0.000 2.742∗∗ 0.459∗∗ ∗ Significant at the 5 per cent level. Emsley et al. In addition.254 0.357∗ 0.242 Originality 0.05).040 0.495 9. only the rule/group conformity construct was significantly correlated.145.447. p < 0.754∗∗ 0.442 4.05) and the rule/group conformity construct (r = 0.880 40.228 0 Maximum 1 Theoretical range Minimum 0 Maximum 1 8. radical and non-radical innovations. KAI.110 5. not applicable. In terms of regression C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Inventory.268 7 74 40 18 17 5.479∗∗ Efficiency Propensity to initiate radical/non-radical innovations Professional development KAI Originality Rule/group conformity 0. For years of professional development. but not the efficiency construct (r = 0.000 75.240 0. and not at a level at which multicollinearity might be considered a problem (Tabachnick and Fidell.353∗ KAI 0. there are significant correlations between the propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations and the originality construct (r = 0.498 0. Table 2 Correlation matrix for dependent and independent variables Variable Professional development 0.360∗ 0. 2001). Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Inventory. These correlations support the independence of professional development and cognitive style.357.

rule/group conformity and efficiency. the analysis undertaken is similar to that established in previous contingency studies (e. computed as the product of the two terms. The KAI was initially tested in its composite form combining the three constructs of originality. p = 0. 1992) bearing in mind potential concerns with the method (Hartmann and Moers. is positive and significant (t = 2. b 3 needs to be examined. meaning that four regressions were run in total. b 3 . rule/group conformity and efficiency) and professional development. and that this propensity will increase with greater exposure to professional development. 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).012). To test whether the moderating effect of professional development is significant. K = the KAI in composite form as well as the three constructs of originality. the sign and significance of the interaction term. Subsequently. 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. 4. To determine if there is a moderating effect of professional development on the relation between KAI and innovative behaviour. Emsley et al. 5 per cent level of significance. Y = b0 + b1 K + b2 P + b3 K ∗ P + e where Y = innovative behaviour measured by the proportion of innovations that were radical. the relevant residual plots and plots of residuals against fitted values provided evidence that the assumptions of normality. rule/group conformity and efficiency. indicating C The Authors Journal compilation (1) C 2006 AFAANZ . each of the three constructs was analyzed separately. The coefficient of the interaction term. homoscedasticity and linearity were met. P = professional development measured by number of years of professional association membership.38.3.g. 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. Dunk. 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 hypothesis was tested with the regression model given as equation (1) using a onetailed. / 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.D. K ∗ P = interaction of the KAI (in composite form as well as the three constructs of originality.

to estimate equation (1). 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. respectively.5% and 25.256 D. b 3 . of the variance in the dependent variable. p = 0. b 3 . affects the C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ .92. p = 0. Summary and conclusions The results of the study provide broad support for our expectations. The adjusted R2 s indicate that the originality and rule/group conformity interaction models explain 28. respectively. with results presented in Table 4. / 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 0.38 p 0. as measured by KAI.4%. is positive but not significant (t = 0. Panel C of Table 4 reports regression results for the efficiency construct.54 −0.068 0. F 3. The coefficient of the interaction term. it was found that adaptive/innovative cognitive style.50.006 0.013 for the originality regression and t = 1. adjusted R2 = 26. are positive and significant in both regressions (t = 2. The second. The coefficients of the interaction terms.32.066 0.37 = 5. and (ii) the rule/group conformity dimension of KAI and professional development.012 R2 = 32.004 −0.464 0. the propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations. p = 0.4 per cent of the variation in the dependent variable. Panels A and B report regression results for the originality and rule/group conformity constructs.254 0. p = 0. rule/group conformity and efficiency constructs of the KAI.9%. The adjusted R2 indicates that the interaction model explains 26.20 2. KAI.002 SE 0. 5. 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. Emsley et al.000 t 1.036 for the rule/group conformity regression).002. propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations. n = 41.312).9 per cent of the variation in the dependent variable. The adusted R2 indicates that the interaction model explains only 6.715 −0.1%. third and fourth regressions used the originality.017 0. 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. Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Inventory. First.86. respectively.67 −2.150 0.

09 0. F 3. That is.50 0.000 a R2 0.263 0.86 1.005 Panel B: Regression for the KAI rule/group conformity constructb Constant b0 0.37 = 5.27 −0. C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . F 3. the results were significant for originality and rule/group conformity but not for efficiency. further discussion of these separate effects is warranted.049 0.337 0. n = 41. For management accountants who are adaptors (on the originality and rule/group conformity constructs).004 Professional development b2 0.030 0.37 = 1.145.662 Rule/group conformity b1 −0. 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.4%. p = 0. In contrast.007 0. the efficiency construct was positively. p = 0.013 0.072 0.521 0. n = 41.32 1.37 = 6. In contrast. 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.039 0.001.312 = 33.016 0.19 1. p = 0.7%. correlated. As the different constructs of the KAI seem to have different effects on innovation.426 0. n = 41.002 0. 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.9%.002 0. when examining the three constructs separately.003 Interaction b3 0.4%.43 −1.054 Originality b1 0. it was found that adaptive/innovative cognitive style and professional development interact.036 0. increasing exposure to professional development is associated with initiation of fewer radical to non-radical management accounting changes. the results were strongest for originality and rule/group conformity. again.46.73 1. c R2 = 13.395 0.282 0.5%.32.465 0.009 Professional development b2 −0.1%.41 −1. Second.040 0. / 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.D. propensity of management accountants to initiate radical and non-radical innovations. When examining each of the three constructs of the KAI separately.012 Professional development b2 −0.084 0.444 Efficiency b1 −0. F 3.125 Interaction b3 0. adjusted R2 = 28. which were both positively and significantly correlated with the propensity to initiate radical and non-radical innovations. Emsley et al. b R2 = 30.007 Panel C: Regression for the KAI efficiency constructc Constant b0 0.91.077 Interaction b3 0. However.408 0.24 −0. Consequently.047 0.028 0.003.94 2.96 −0. but not significantly.106 0. adjusted R2 = 6. adjusted R2 = 25.

However. those ideas that are novel and original. whereas innovators prefer solutions that are long-term effective. With respect to the literature. as individuals who do not feel the necessity to conform will participate in activities that tend away from and challenge rule/group norms. individuals whose cognitive style tends away from rule/group conformity are more predisposed to radical innovations that challenge and change those paradigms. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 Radical innovations occur when novel ideas are introduced into the organization. Additionally. An individual who is high on the originality construct of the KAI cognitive style is predisposed to seek out. It is not intuitively obvious that this distinction translates to preferences for radical and non-radical innovations. radical innovations involve challenging existing practices and require abandonment of conformity to paradigms underlying those practices.1. the C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . while rule/group conformity and originality are intuitively appealing as constructs of an individual’s innovativeness. As radical ideas. 5. 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. Contributions and implications of the study The present study contributes to the published literature on management accounting innovation and has several practical implications. as well as be inclined to initiate them in their own organization. exposure to professional development amplifies these predispositions. come from outside the organization. This study lends support to the lesser relevance of efficiency in the context of individual innovativeness. 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.258 D. and be attuned to. or that being efficient is an inhibitor on propensity to initiate radical changes. Kirton (1994) argues that adaptors prefer solutions to problems that are short-term efficient. 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. Emsley et al. This requires the presence of an individual who has the propensity to initiate such ideas. Individuals who are otherwise predisposed to initiate radical changes might well be concerned with efficiency. the argument for efficiency is less compelling. In contrast. With regard to rule/group conformity. at least relative to the other two constructs. individuals predisposed to non-radical innovations could well be concerned with long-term effectiveness as a criterion for non-radical change. there appears to be no reason why innovators are less efficient than adaptors. as much as individuals predisposed to initiate non-radical changes. a propensity that is clearly related to the originality construct of the KAI. Similarly. as a stimulus for change. 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. By contrast. Again. by definition. efficiency is not. Consequently.

Other factors such as age might be correlated with this proxy measure. recruiting and/or assigning an accountant whose cognitive style predisposes them to non-radical innovations might be counterproductive. display a lack of interest in the radical innovation. This stage is important in its own right. therefore.D. Second. A third limitation is that professional development was not measured directly but proxied by number of years of membership of a professional accounting association. implementation and routinization of innovation (Krumwiede. the organization needs to know which is which. Specifically. Nonetheless. initiation is only one of a number of stages of adoption. the present study shows the importance of two factors that affect management accountants’ innovative behaviour: adaptive/innovative cognitive style and professional development. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 259 present study provides insight into the critical. 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. and particularly so given that the adaptive/innovative cognitive style is likely to be most relevant at this stage. because they might seek to introduce a non-radical innovation where a radical one is needed. take steps to actively resist a radical innovation. 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). whereas the theory in the paper asserts causality. Limitations of the present study First. originality and rule/group conformity. that is. 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 the study must be seen in that light. With respect to practical implications. 1998). It might. Therefore. hence. role of the individual management accountant in the process of management accounting change.2. They are more likely to initiate the ‘ground-breaking’ innovations that challenge and change existing practices. the analysis only allows associational statements. the study focused only on the initiation stage of innovation. However. the present study relies on cross-sectional survey data. 5. it might be organizational influence through seniority. Individuals with different cognitive styles bring different strengths and perspectives to innovation. or worse. rather than professional development that enables older management accountants to initiate C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . namely. which are innovators and which are adaptors for recruitment and task assignment. If a radical innovation is required. the present study suggests that only two of the three constructs of the KAI measure of cognitive style seem to be important. yet relatively underresearched. However. a more balanced interpretation of the results is that organizations should seek a mix of adaptors and innovators. and if age is also related to seniority. Emsley et al. Moreover. 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.

includes intrinsic task motivation as an additional component in her model of individual creativity. In addition. in fact. Research could examine whether individuals with different adaptor/innovator cognitive styles exhibit different strengths and weaknesses at stages subsequent to initiation. it might be argued that. as noted earlier. management accountants might attend non-management accounting activities and might do more than the minimum number of hours mandated. Although the current survey study is able to assert causality only through theory. Future research could incorporate intrinsic task motivation into the interaction model tested in the present study to examine its effect on individuals’ innovative behaviour. C The Authors Journal compilation C 2006 AFAANZ . Simonton (2000) points out that certain factors operate to maintain creative output through one’s life. the measure of professional development could be improved by using a more direct measure. However. different research methods provide opportunities for future research in this area.260 D. a focal variable of the present study. and interwoven with a variety of factors that might affect individual innovativeness. These arguments suggest that age is unlikely to confound our results because the correlate of age most likely to influence accountants’ innovativeness is. the effect of increasing professional development on initiating innovations is less ambiguous and is only likely to positively affect initiation. Second. implementation and routinization. Amabile (1996) also argues that a professional domain. We have captured only two of those factors. which. including persuasion. for example. a high degree of motivation might compensate for a deficiency of skills or a particular cognitive style. Suggestions for further research The field of innovation and creativity research is vast and complex. to some extent. She contends that no amount of domain skill can compensate for a lack of intrinsic motivation. providing much scope for future research. Finally. Although professional bodies mandate a minimum number of hours of professional development. professional development. requires a greater level of professional development than others (such as the creative arts) to achieve a similar level of creativity. such as management accounting. Indeed. which is. Third. might stultify the initiation of innovations. Taking these factors into account would result in an improved measure of professional development. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 more of their preferred type of innovation.3. this obligation can be fulfilled in different ways including committee work as well as conference attendance. Emsley et al. with increasing age. a counterargument is that. the most likely of which is the accumulation of domain skills and expertise. the present study was restricted to initiation of innovations. Amabile (1988). and these activities are likely to have different effects on innovative behaviour. 5. Future research could examine the effect of adaptive/innovative cognitive style and professional development on subsequent stages of innovation adoption. individuals become fixed in their ways. and that this effect is likely to be more crucial for creative work in some domains than others. itself. in turn. In contrast.

but would provide stronger support for causality. 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.D. / Accounting and Finance 46 (2006) 243–264 261 it is feasible that an experiment could be constructed to test causality empirically. Emsley et al. itself. require creativity. 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 . Such an experiment would. This would necessitate prior measurement of subjects’ adaptor/innovator cognitive style and professional development.

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