What makes employees trust forecasted numbers?: a case study on how employees make sense of the rolling forecasting process and its effect on trust
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Volatile and changing market conditions have made financial planning tools of increasing importance for managers and practitioners. In recent years, the use of traditional budgets has been criticised as a management control tool. New management tools such as rolling forecasts have arisen. The purpose of this study is to explore how the rolling forecasting process affects trust in an organization. According to Bergstrand (2009) it is important for managers to trust each other in order to get the rolling forecast process to work efficiently. This is in line with Starovic & Jackson (2004) who argue that trust needs to be present in an organization for the systems to work effectively. This thesis is a case study exploring the practice of rolling forecasts within an organization – namely DNV GL. Through qualitative research method, the study aims to get an in-depth understanding of how the rolling forecasting process is understood and how that influences trust. Specifically we investigate: a) How employees make sense of the new financial planning process after introducing rolling forecasts, b) how employees experience that the rolling forecasting process facilitates trust between levels, c) if employees perceive any factors as challenging trust in the forecasting process. Our main findings show that rolling forecasting process influence trust in an organization. Trust is both facilitated and challenged as a consequence of the use of this management tool. By looking at trust through the concepts of ability, benevolence and integrity we are able to identify more specifically what aspects of trust that are influenced. Rolling forecasting process is understood as facilitating ability at all levels in the organization. On the other hand, trust in relation to integrity is only found facilitated at the higher levels in the organization. We explain these findings by looking at the lower level´s understanding of the rolling forecasting process, which differs from the other levels. Rolling forecasting process challenges trust in terms of integrity and benevolence. Integrity is found challenged only at the higher levels. Benevolence is challenged at the lower levels as a result of gaming related behaviour. The thesis finds that the facilitation or challenge of trust is important as it influences how the employees use the forecasted numbers.
Supervisor: Katarina Kaarbøe.