Surrogation Fundamentals: Measurement and Cognition

48 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2018 Last revised: 8 Oct 2021

See all articles by Paul Black

Paul Black

Auburn University

Thomas Meservy

Brigham Young University - Marriott School

William B. Tayler

Brigham Young University

Jeffrey O. Williams

Utah Valley University - Department of Accounting

Date Written: September 30, 2021

Abstract

Measurement is a fundamental part of accounting. A primary purpose of measurement is to provide more concrete representations of abstract strategic objectives. A potential consequence of using measures to proxy for less-tangible strategic constructs is the tendency for managers to fall prey to surrogation, losing sight of strategic constructs and behaving as though measures are the constructs of interest. We show that surrogation is a nonconscious process. We also extend understanding of the conditions necessary for surrogation to occur by showing that mere awareness of measurement (even absent compensation) is sufficient to induce surrogation. These findings have implications for any setting where measures are used to represent a more abstract construct. While using measures is clearly very beneficial, we highlight the importance of understanding when and why surrogation can occur and developing strategies to reduce its effects.

Keywords: Surrogation, Measurement, Strategy, Attribute Substitution, Performance Evaluation

JEL Classification: M41

Suggested Citation

Black, Paul and Meservy, Thomas and Tayler, William B. and Williams, Jeffrey, Surrogation Fundamentals: Measurement and Cognition (September 30, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3200074 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3200074

Paul Black

Auburn University ( email )

309A, Comer Hall
Auburn, AL 36849
United States

Thomas Meservy

Brigham Young University - Marriott School ( email )

United States

William B. Tayler (Contact Author)

Brigham Young University ( email )

Brigham Young University
519 TNRB
Provo, UT 84602
United States
(801) 422-5972 (Phone)
(801) 422-0621 (Fax)

Jeffrey Williams

Utah Valley University - Department of Accounting ( email )

800 West University Parkway
Orem, UT 84058
United States

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