Choice avoidance in managerial accounting decisions
Managers often delay making decisions when decision tools indicate a preferred alternative. This avoidance behavior is costly. I posit this tendency to delay arises from the conflict inherent in choice and the manager's resulting negative affect. In this study I examine two dimensions of choice difficulty which cause conflict and are posited to increase negative affect and, as a result, increase the tendency of individuals to avoid action. Specifically, I investigate the influence of (1) tradeoffs of difficult-to-compare features and (2) tradeoffs of highly valued goals on an individual's tendency to avoid choice when analysis indicates action would be appropriate. In an experiment with one hundred twenty executives, participants with either difficult-to-compare features or difficult tradeoffs report higher levels of decision difficulty, negative affect and desire to postpone than participants in a control group. In addition, I investigate the efficacy of two potential remedies.