Opening Pandora's box: Studying the accuracy of managers' perceptions

William H. Starbuck, John M. Mezias

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Both researchers and managers depend on the accuracy of managers' perceptions. Yet, few studies compare subjective with 'objective' data, perhaps because it is very difficult to do well. These difficulties also muddy interpretations of results. On one hand, studies suggest that managers' perceptions may be very inaccurate. On the other hand, the observed errors in managerial perceptions may arise from research methods instead of managers. Because perceptual data are so significant for both researchers and managers, researchers need to understand both the potential contaminants of perceptual research and the determinants of perceptual errors and biases. This article reviews studies of the accuracies of managers' perceptions, points out hazards in such research, and suggests various ways to improve studies of perceptions. The suggestions encompass improvements in gathering more valid subjective data, locating more appropriate 'objective' data, finding appropriate respondents, and using statistical methods that provide accurate and reliable estimates with small samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-117
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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