Carolyn Deller

Carolyn Deller
  • Assistant Professor of Accounting

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    1311 Steinberg Hall - Dietrich Hall
    3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365

Links: CV


Professor Carolyn Deller is an Assistant Professor of Accounting at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on the design and outcomes of management control systems used by organizations to enhance employees’ motivation, ability, and opportunity to reach their full potential. The control systems explored in her research include employee selection, incentive plans, employee evaluation systems, and the balanced scorecard.  Professor Deller’s research typically involves the econometric analysis of within-firm archival data, though she has also utilized experimental methodologies.

Professor Deller enjoys teaching the undergraduate core course, Strategic Cost Analysis. She received a DBA (Accounting and Management) from Harvard Business School, and a Bachelor of Commerce (Honors) from the University of Melbourne in Australia. She was previously a Chartered Accountant at KPMG.

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Research interests: management accounting and control systems, performance measurement, organizational design, chain organizations

  • Carolyn Deller and Santiago Gallino Contract Design and Work Quality (Work in Progress).

  • Carolyn Deller (2019), Reflections on Obtaining Archival Data from the Field, Journal of Financial Reporting.

    Abstract: This article draws on my experiences conducting field research utilizing archival company data and provides a roadmap for such projects. Specifically, I provide an overview of the main stages typically involved in a field study utilizing archival company data: finding a suitable research site; visiting the research site; receiving the data; processing the data; and completing the research project. In so doing, I highlight many of the opportunities as well as challenges involved in such projects. My hope is that sharing my experiences will prove useful for other researchers embarking on, or considering, field research of this nature.

  • Carolyn Deller and Jeremy Michels (Working), The Effect of Weather on Subjective Performance Evaluation.

  • Carolyn Deller and Tatiana Sandino (2019), Who Should Select New Employees, Headquarters or the Unit Manager? Consequences of Centralizing Hiring at a Retail Chain, The Accounting Review, Forthcoming..

    Abstract: We examine how changing the allocation of hiring decision rights in a multiunit organization affects employee-firm match quality, contingent on a unit’s circumstances. Our research site, a US retail chain, switched from a decentralized hiring model (hiring by business unit managers—in our case, store managers) to centralized hiring (in this study, by the head office). While centralized hiring can ensure that enough resources are invested in hiring people aligned with company values, it can also neglect the unit managers’ local knowledge. Using difference-in-differences analyses, we find that the switch is associated with relatively higher employee departure rates and thus poorer matches if the business unit manager has a local advantage; that is, if the store serves repeat customers, serves a demographically atypical market, or poses higher information-gathering costs for headquarters. In these cases, the unit manager may be more informed than headquarters about which candidates best match local conditions.

  • Carolyn Deller and Tatiana Sandino (2019), Effects of a Tournament Incentive Plan Incorporating Managerial Discretion in a Geographically Dispersed Organization, Management Science, Forthcoming..

    Abstract: Using retail chain data, we study the effects of a tournament incentive plan based primarily on objective performance, but incorporating managerial discretion in the selection of winners. In principle, such plans could motivate employees to perform both at a high level, based on objective criteria, and in accordance with company values, considered via managerial discretion. However, such plans could be counterproductive if enough participants (especially those who don’t win) perceive that subjectivity (introduced via discretion) adds unfairness. We show that, on average, the tournament incentive plan was associated with improved store sales. We also find that such plans can be more beneficial for geographically distant participants, where the potential for improving alignment is greater. Lastly, we find some evidence that participants’ resource constraints (potentially affecting unfairness concerns) can impact outcomes under the plan.

  • Carolyn Deller, Susanna Gallani, Tatiana Sandino (Working), In Search of Organizational Alignment Using a 360-Degree Assessment System: Evidence from a Retail Chain (Working Paper).

  • Carolyn Deller and V.G. Narayanan (Work In Progress), Employee Decision Making and Strategy Implementation using the Balanced Scorecard.

  • Carolyn Deller (Working), Beyond Performance: When Potential Matters to Employee Career Outcomes.

  • Pablo Casas-Arce, Carolyn Deller, F. Asis Martinez-Jerez, Jose Manuel Narciso (Working), The Performance Effect of Ranking Disclosure in Relative Performance Compensation Schemes.


Past Courses


    Strategic Cost Analysis is the process of analyzing and managing costs in orderto improve the strategic position of the business. This goal can be accomplished by having a thorough understanding of which activities and costs support support an organization's strategic position and which activities and costs either weaken it or have no impact. Subsequent cost management efforts can then focus on reducing or limiting expenditures on activities that add little or no strategic value, while increasing expenditures on activities that support the strategic position of the organization. Performance can then be evaluated to ensure that the chosen actions are taken, and that these actions are yielding improved strategic performance. Throughout the course, a strategic cost analysis and management framework will be applied across functions and organizations to highlight the cost analysis and performance evaluation methods available to forecast financial performance and improve strategic position.

Awards and Honors

  • MAS Best Dissertation Award, 2019


Latest Research

Carolyn Deller and Santiago Gallino Contract Design and Work Quality (Work in Progress).
All Research

Awards and Honors

MAS Best Dissertation Award 2019
All Awards