Dirk Black Receives A 2017 American Accounting Association Best Paper Award

Tuck Professor Dirk Black and USC professor Marshall Vance examine how managers trade off first impressions of employee ability versus observed performance when making promotion decisions.

Assistant Professor of Business Administration Dirk Black and co-author Marshall Vance of the University of Southern California have received a 2017 Best Paper Award from the American Accounting Association (AAA) for their research paper, “Do First Impressions Last? The Impact of Initial Assessments and Subsequent Performance on Promotion Decisions.”

The AAA’s Management Accounting Section Midyear Meeting Best Paper Award recognizes the paper presented at the Midyear Meeting that has the most potential to advance understanding of management accounting. According to the AAA website, the winner is selected by an awards committee appointed by the president of the section.

Using data from Minor League baseball pitchers from 1987–2014 from the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), Black and Vance examined how managers trade off their first impressions of employee ability versus subsequently observed employee performance when making promotion decisions. While economic theory predicts that first impressions and employee performance should be used in employee promotion decisions according to informativeness about employee ability, their results suggest the importance of first impressions in subsequent promotion decisions is driven instead by confirmation bias. When making promotion decisions, managers use first impressions of employee ability much more than is justified by the ability of first impressions to predict future employee performance. Put simply, do first impressions matter? Black and Vance find that yes, they absolutely do.

“I am very excited to receive this award with my co-author, Marshall Vance,” says Black. “This study represents many hours of hard work. Given the many exceptional papers presented at the conference, we are honored to receive the award and appreciate the excellent feedback we received.”

Read the full paper.