In a setting that considers both operational and accounting decentralization, we propose that controllability and outcome valence effects (i.e., positive versus negative contractual outcomes for managers) interact to affect managers’ misreporting behavior. Experimental results show that the level of cost-shifting under negative outcome valence is relatively invariant to the amount of control over a project’s results, whereas the decision to engage in cost-shifting under positive outcome valence is contingent upon whether the manager had control or not. We contribute to the management accounting literature on contract framing and misreporting and extend research on how decentralization choices affect managers’ use of private information, with direct implications for practice. Our results suggest that limiting individual managers’ operational control primarily to constrain misreporting may only be beneficial when contracts stipulate positive outcomes for managers.

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