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 (Under Review), Pay for Quantity or Time? Implications for Work Speed and Quality.

    Abstract: We examine how paying workers a fixed amount for a pre-specified quantity of work vis-à-vis paying workers a fixed amount for a pre-specified amount of time for a quality-focused task affects the time spent per unit of work and the quality achieved. Across two experiments, we find no evidence—contrary to our expectations—that workers paid for a set quantity of work spend less time on each unit (i.e., work faster) than workers paid for a set amount of time. In fact, in our second experiment, we find workers paid for a set quantity of work spend more time on each unit on average. These workers also achieve greater quality. These findings, together with the worker outcomes we observe when workers are told what is valued (quality, speed, or both), are consistent with the idea that the design of fixed compensation schemes can influence employee effort and performance, despite no compensation consequences, by implicitly communicating what is valued.

  • Carolyn Deller, Christopher D. Ittner, Hami Amiraslani, Thomas Keusch (Working), Outside Directors and Board Risk Reporting.

  • Carolyn Deller, S Leonelli, Artz, M. (Working), You Rate Me and I’ll Rate You: Mutual Rating Relationships in Multi-Rater Performance Evaluation Systems.

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

    Abstract: We examine how a specific external and uncontrollable factor—the day’s weather— influences subjective performance evaluations. We use an experiment to test if weather introduces a directional bias to subjective evaluations and if weather interacts with a decision bias documented by prior literature: spillover from performance on an objective measure to the subjective evaluation of an unrelated performance dimension. In contrast to conventional wisdom, we find no evidence that sunny weather results in more positive evaluations. However, we find evidence that cloudy weather mitigates spillover effects in subjective evaluations. Specifically, we find that spillover effects are significantly less pronounced on cloudy days vis-à-vis sunny days in geographic locations where the weather is more likely to influence evaluators. Moreover, we find that, at least in our study, sunshine is a necessary condition for the spillover effect first documented by Bol and Smith (2011). We examine and rule out various channels through which weather may affect the spillover effect, concluding that our results are most likely attributable to cloudy weather inducing a more detailed and systematic cognitive processing style.

  • Carolyn Deller, Pablo Casas-Arce, Francisco de Asis Martinez-Jerez, Jose Manuel Narciso, Knowing That You Know: Incentive Effects of Relative Performance Disclosure.

    Abstract: This paper studies differential employee responses to the public disclosure of individual performance information throughout an organization. We argue that, to the extent that employees care about their colleagues’ perceptions of their productivity, public disclosure will increase motivation. Moreover, the effect should be stronger for employees whose colleagues expect them to have higher performance. We obtained data from a bank that transitioned from private to public disclosure of employee rankings and, consistent with our hypothesis, find heterogeneity in employee responses to public disclosure. Employees with a history of poor performance increase their output more than past good performers when rankings become public. Additionally, more highly educated employees react more strongly to the change. However, contrary to the literature that finds gender differences in competitive environments, we do not find systematic differences in the response to public disclosure on this dimension. Overall, the results suggest that public disclosure is an important dimension to consider when designing a compensation system.

  • Carolyn Deller, Christopher D. Ittner, Hami Amiraslani, Thomas Keusch (Working), Board Risk Oversight and Environmental and Social Responsibility.

    Abstract: Risk oversight has emerged as an important responsibility of corporate boards. At the same time, firms are increasingly recognizing the risks that social and environmental issues pose to investors and stakeholders. In this study, we examine the relation between board risk oversight and firms’ environmental and social (E&S) ratings. Using proprietary data on the board risk oversight practices of firms from 29 countries, we show that firms with more robust risk oversight have higher E&S ratings, are more likely to integrate E&S issues into their strategies and executive compensation contracts, and ultimately experience better E&S outcomes.

  • Carolyn Deller and Tatiana Sandino (2020), Who Should Select New Employees, Headquarters or the Unit Manager? Consequences of Centralizing Hiring at a Retail Chain, The Accounting Review, 95 (4), pp. 173-198.

    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 (2020), Effects of a Tournament Incentive Plan Incorporating Managerial Discretion in a Geographically Dispersed Organization, Management Science, 66 (2), pp. 911-931.

    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 (2019), Reflections on Obtaining Archival Data from the Field, Journal of Financial Reporting, 4 (1), pp. 25-36.

    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 (Working), Beyond Performance: Does Assessed Potential Matter to Employees’ Voluntary Departure Decisions?.


All Courses

  • ACCT1020 - Strategic Cost Analysis

    Strategic Cost Analysis is the process of analyzing and managing costs in order to improve the strategic position of the business. This goal can be accomplished by having a thorough understanding of which activities and costs 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.

  • ACCT9400 - Research in Acct I

    This is Part I of a theoretical and empirical literature survey course covering topics that include corporate disclosure, cost of capital, incentives, compensation, governance, financial intermediation, financial reporting, tax, agency theory, cost accounting, capital structure, international financial reporting, analysts, and market efficiency.

Awards and Honors

MAS Best Early Career Researcher Award, 2022
FARS Excellence in Reviewing Award, 2022 FARS Mid-Year Meeting
Wharton Teaching Excellence Award, 2021, 2020
MAS Outstanding Reviewer Award, 2021 MAS Mid-Year Meeting
MAS Outstanding Reviewer Award, 2020 Annual Meeting
MAS Best Dissertation Award, 2019


    Latest Research

    Carolyn Deller and Santiago Gallino (Under Review), Pay for Quantity or Time? Implications for Work Speed and Quality.
    All Research