Sun Yat-Sen Management Review

  Journal Fullview

Sun Yat-Sen Management Review  2017/6

Vol. 25, No.2  p.337-366


Organizational Ethical Climate as Moderators of the Relationships between Budgetary Slack and its Antecedents
(136_M5a1e6c7f2b92d_Full.pdf 879KB)

Bing-Chyan Chiou/

Department of Finance, National Pingtung University



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The authors investigated the impact of different types of organizational ethical climate on the relationships between budgetary slack and three antecedents of the slack (environmental uncertainty, budgetary emphasis and information asymmetry). Using multi-level hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) and a sample of 624 subunit managers from 72 listed companies in Taiwan, they found that the perceived egoistic climate strengthened the positive relationships between the antecedents and budgetary slack. In contrast, the perceived benevolent and principled climates weakened the relationships. However, if the budgetary slack was caused by environmental uncertainty, the perceived benevolent climate had no effect on eliminating budgetary slack (supporting the moral disengagement theory) but the effect of principled climate still exists (not supporting the moral disengagement theory). The implications of the findings for management accounting research and practices are discussed.

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Budgetary Slack, Budgetary Slack Antecedents, Ethical Climate

Financial Accounting

Policy and management implications
(Available only in Chinese)

The budget system is an important tool of target management and performance appraisal. However, the general organizational managers would like to create budgetary slack. The budgetary slack causes the organizational resource allocation unfair and the resource waste, inevitably affects the organizational performance. Budgetary emphasis, environmental uncertainty and informational asymmetry are three important factors that are considered to induce managers ' budgetary slack. The results of this study confirm that the organization ethical climate can regulate the positive influence of the three antecedent variables on the budgetary slack, which can be used as an important reference for the enterprise's implementation of budget system. According to the results of this study, our results imply that if there is an external situation characterized by high environmental uncertainty, high information asymmetry and a budgetary emphasis that is not easy to change, the organization should attempt to develop a benevolent or principled ethical climate to encourage subordinates to eliminate budgetary slack. The results of this study apply specifically to companies in Taiwan, especially those in high-tech industries that often rely on financial incentives to promote the attainment of budgetary goals and improve the organization’s performance. The results imply that even though budgetary emphasis and information asymmetry may not be sufficient to create budgetary slack, if an egoistic climate predominates over a benevolent climate or a principled climate in an organization, the result will be greater budgetary slack caused by the strong budgetary emphasis and high information asymmetry. To keep subunit managers from engaging in budgetary slack, an organization should either (1) establish and promote the appropriate rules, codes of conduct, professional standards and procedures associated with a principled ethical climate and insist that employees follow them, (2) establish the norms associated with a benevolent climate by engaging employees’ concerns for the well-being of the organization’s stakeholders, or (3)establish ethical codes that diminish self-centered concerns to prevent the development of an egoistic climate. Due to the internationalization of global companies and the increasingly aggressive competition among corporations, subunit managers will encounter increasing environmental uncertainty. In order to eliminate budgetary slack derived from environmental uncertainty, an organization should communicate clear rules and procedures to its employees aimed at establishing a principled employment environment, and create a fair-employment atmosphere to prevent the development of an egoistic ethical climate.


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