The impact of presentation format and individual differences on the communication of information for management decision making
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Accounting, Finance and Economics
Accounting information is essentially multivariate and the relationships among variables may be difficult to establish. Differing multivariate information presentation methods may impact on the quality of the decisions made by users. Existing studies in this area have given scant attention to differences between individual users, despite earlier suggestions from the second author of this paper that both gender and personality might impact on information processing. This study focuses on the interaction of the decision maker (addressing issues of gender, personality, cognitive style and ability) with the data presentation method (including tables, graphical and pictorial methods) in the management decision making process. The paper reports on experiments conducted with respondents of varying degrees of accounting sophistication, using a failed/non‐failed decision environment. Results provide support for the use of graphical and pictorial methods as means of representing data for this decision task, while also identifying the influence of gender, spatial ability and tolerance of ambiguity. These findings have implications for the matching of information presentation with the characteristics of the decision maker in management decision making.