The Two Faces of Voluntary Disclosure: Quality Improvement and Organizational Learning from Selfreported Problems

Vinit M. Desai
British Journal of Management, Vol 23, Issue 3, Sept 2012, pages 344–360

Research suggests the promise of voluntary self-reporting, given that organizational quality can be difficult to monitor. However, I explore opposing theoretical arguments regarding its impact. On one hand, self-reported problems may motivate intensive investigation, resulting in subsequent improvement. However, self-reports may instead represent relatively superficial impression management efforts, and their value to organizational performance may be more dubious. Associated hypotheses are tested on a longitudinal panel of nursing homes. Findings suggest that self-reports generally detract from performance except when they are reinforced by other, complementary forms of experience. Contributions to organizational learning theory, institutional theory and regulatory policy are discussed.