An analysis of changes to a team-based incentive plan and its effects on productivity, product quality, and absenteeism
Using data from three production units of a large manufacturing plant that employs production teams in its assembly operations, this paper examines how changes made to an existing team-based incentive plan affects labor productivity, product quality, and worker absenteeism. The firm switched from a piece-rates contract and an attendance bonus and instituted a two tier incentive plan comprising two different but complementary performance-based bonus schemes: one tier based on individual team performance and the other tier on plant-wide performance. The incentives were introduced concurrently with management control initiatives intended to facilitate cooperation and monitoring among the teams. I find significant productivity gains and improvements in quality and absenteeism associated with the new incentive plan. These findings underscore two important points that have not been emphasized in existing empirical studies of incentive pay: incentive contracts for teams generate superior performance using combination of incentives, and the need to introduce organizational changes to facilitate cooperation and peer monitoring in tandem with incentive pay to capture greater incentive effects in team production.
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