The following seven studies were conducted in two of the big four accounting firms in South Africa. The goal was to evaluate the degree by which the CPP predicts the academic and work performance of trainee and qualified accountants. More specifically:
The results of the various studies are briefly summarised here:
The CPP results of a sample of 300 accounting students that managed to write their FQE I exams in 2001 were compared to their academic results.
It was found that a large number of the CPP dimensions significantly correlated with the examination results of the candidates, in particular those of: Analytical Skills, Logical Reasoning, Quick Insight Learning, Memory and Metacognitive awareness. Significant correlations of around 0.4 – 0.6 (p < 0.0001) were largely achieved between the exam pass rate and the above mentioned CPP dimensions. This study provides evidence that the CPP predicts the academic results of accounting students.
The sample used for the purposes of this study was pre-selected using the CPP. Only those that showed the cognitive potential to deal with the complexity of the Tactical Strategy (SST level 3) or higher levels, were included: in other words, those who showed the cognitive capability to go beyond linear thinking in order to deal with interactive effects within tangible systems. A large number of individuals included in the study also showed the capacity to move beyond this tangible systems level of complexity to deal with intangible, fuzzy and dynamic systems.
In addition to the complexity preferences and capabilities of applicants, cognitive stylistic preferences were also used as a selection criterion. This was based on previous CPP research findings, which indicated that 73% of accountants show Logical-Analytical cognitive styles on the CPP.
Of the test candidates that were selected as bursars based on the above mentioned cognitive criteria, 651 of the total sample of 752 individuals passed and 101 of the 752 failed the FQE I exam. In other words, 86.5% of those selected based on their CPP results passed this challenging exam.
In terms of the exam results of students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds in South Africa, this particular firm historically achieved pass rates of 4% on the FQE II exam. After implementing CPP assessment for purposes of selecting bursars from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, their pass rates improved to 64% on the FQE II – which was significantly higher than the national average pass rate of around 50% on the FQE II.
In a study using this same sample of trainee accountants in Assurances, multiple regression analysis was conducted to investigate CPP predictors of general work performance as indicated by the 360 degree evaluations of managers. The results indicate that the work performance of trainee accountants is best predicted by the following CPP dimensions:
The purpose of the study was to identify guidelines for future selection and training initiatives in the accounting environment. CPP results were compared to the performance appraisal scores of trainee accountants. These performance scores were allocated by their mentors in terms of the following competencies and/or criteria: Business and financial acumen; Motivation; Interpersonal skills; Work performance; Academic achievement; Logical-analytical skills; Judgement capability; Self-improvement; and Learning.
Particular CPP scores differentially correlated with these dimensions and results of r = .4 to r = .61 were obtained. These correlations were mostly significant at a p < 0.01 level.
Using ANOVAs, the degree to which CPP results differentiated between competency-based performance groups was analysed. The competency dimensions were evaluated by the employer on a 5-point rating scale. Although many CPP dimensions correlated with the competency ratings, the only ones that differentiated between performance groups at a p < 0.01 significance level were Structuring and Metacognitive processes.
In other words, differences in the way in which performance groups understood, ordered and represented information, thus appear to significantly affect their performance within the accounting environment.
A small qualitative and quantitative research study, in which the CPP results were correlated with job performance criteria, was undertaken in the Tax (n = 39) division in a big four accounting firm. The goal was to identify core cognitive dimensions that significantly predict job performance within the Tax environment in this organisation.
Correlations between CPP processing dimensions and General Job Performance indicated that job-related functioning seems to covary with the depth and effectiveness of exploration processes; the structuring and categorisation of information; and the integration and meaningful interpretation of fragmented information. An interpretation of the results indicated:
In an independent cross-cultural study of the CPP profiles, the academic performance and the work performance of 752 candidates from diverse backgrounds, ANOVA results of group differences show no significant differences between race and gender groups in terms of their potential for cognitive functioning as measured by the CPP.
The CPP thus seems to effectively predict the academic, work performance and competence of trainee and practicing accountants. No adverse impact was found. The CPP can therefore be used to prevent failure and manage risks involved with the selection of accounting bursary students and staff.