Performance evaluations based on financial information: how do managers use situational information?

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Organizations regularly use budgets as benchmarks for performance, and budgets represent a key control feature for almost every organization (Brown and Solomon (1993)). Research has demonstrated that outcome effects are pervasive in performance evaluation processes, and that performance evaluators do not interpret situational information consistently. An experiment is conducted to examine the effects of situational information on managers’ performance and ability attributions under conditions of favorable and unfavorable financial outcomes. The findings indicate that when financial outcomes are unfavorable, outcome effects dominate the performance evaluation process, and situational information has little effect on performance evaluations. The results of cognitive load manipulations indicate that situational information is not ignored, but rather discounted when financial outcomes are favorable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-65
Number of pages20
JournalManagerial Finance
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive load
  • Discounting
  • Outcome bias
  • Outcome effect
  • Performance evaluation
  • Situational factors

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