Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD)

Degree Level





Marinus Bouwman

Committee Member

G. William Glezen

Second Committee Member

Thomas W. Jones

Third Committee Member

Keith F. Sellers


Business valuation services, behavior, accounting research


This study investigates the linkage between cognitive reasoning abilities and performance in ill-structured tasks. Prior accounting research shows that the broad construct known as general problem-solving ability is directly related to performance in ill-structured audit tasks (Libby and Tan 1994). General problem-solving ability has been defined as having sub-components comprised of verbal, quantitative, memory, and cognitive reasoning abilities (Libby 1995). Most prior accounting studies have either controlled for performance differences associated with the subcomponent abilities or have just ignored them. This has created a gap in behavioral accounting research (Shanteau 1995; Bouwman and Bradley 1997). This study seeks to partially fill that gap by ascertaining whether or not a sub-component of general problem-solving ability (e.g. cognitive reasoning ability) is associated with performance in ill-structured business valuation tasks. Departing from an audit focus, this study uses business valuators as research subjects. The sample of 134 business valuators includes individuals from 42 different states, Puerto Rico, and Canada. Subjects are asked to value a medical practice using researcher developed case materials. Additionally, subjects are asked to complete Form B of the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST). Scores representing performance on the cognitive tasks of design, hypothesis generation, hypothesis evaluation, and choice are derived from the case materials. Overall cognitive reasoning ability scores and sub-scores are provided by performance on the CCTST. Subjects are divided into expert (n=56) or novice (n=78) categories based on two experience related factors and two knowledge related factors. Subjects are further divided into high reasoning ability and low reasoning ability categories based on CCTST scores. Factorial analyses of variance and OLS regression models are used to evaluate hypotheses relating cognitive task performance on the medical practice case to cognitive reasoning ability. The findings are consistent with the idea that cognitive reasoning ability (a sub-component of general problem-solving ability) is a determinant of performance in certain ill-structured business valuation tasks. Specifically, cognitive reasoning ability is important for all novices and for high reasoning ability experts when the design task is considered. Cognitive reasoning ability is important for high reasoning ability experts and high reasoning ability novices when the hypothesis evaluation task is considered.

Included in

Accounting Commons