The current paper examines how asking for a report of units of work completed versus cost of the same work can influence overbilling. We suggest that something as simple as asking for a report of units of work completed (for instance, reporting either the time spent or number of units of work completed) as opposed to the cost of the work completed can drive different unethical behaviors. We argue that unit-reporting makes providers feel accountable for their actions, and this induced accountability, in turn, impacts actual billing behaviors. We present seven studies, including a field experiment in the auto-repair industry that demonstrate the effect of different work-report formats on overbilling and provide evidence for our proposed underlying mechanism.
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