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The Effect of Accounting Report Structure and Team Structure on Performance in Cross-Functional Teams

Casey Rowe
The Accounting Review
Vol. 79, No. 4 (Oct., 2004), pp. 1153-1180
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4093089
Page Count: 28
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The Effect of Accounting Report Structure and Team Structure on Performance in Cross-Functional Teams
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Abstract

Cross-functional teams operate in dynamic environments in which it is difficult to properly align incentives. As a result the free-rider problem can emerge. This paper presents two experiments in which dominant incentives to free ride were held constant. The first experiment examined the question of whether aligning accounting report structure and team structure in such a way as to create a "group frame" helps to mitigate the free-rider problem. Accounting report structure was found to complement team structure. When properly aligned, accounting and team structures helped to resolve the free-rider problem interactively by operating as a powerful group framing device. The second experiment provides theory-consistent evidence that people outside the teams (subjects who acted as management control system designers) fail to appreciate how powerfully the design of accounting and team structures influence performance within teams. Finally, the study provides additional insight into the role that accounting structure can play in promoting informal control within cross-functional teams.

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