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Compliance versus preference: Understanding salesperson response to contests


  • Poujol, F. Juliet
  • Fournier, Christophe
  • Tanner Jr., John F.


Firms use sales contests to motivate salespeople; however, knowledge of their impact on salespeople is scarce. Acceptance of the contest, according to goal-setting theory, is essential for a contest to motivate salespeople (Hile-Hart et al., 1989). Yet attitude toward (or preference for) the contest is an important factor in motivating effort (Murphy and Dacin, 1998). In an experiment with financial services salespeople, this study examines the compliance effect (Chowdhury, 1993) and propositions that Murphy and Dacin (1998) suggest. Results support goal-setting theory, but also the importance of salesperson's attitude to the contest. While the study partially confirms Chowdhury's (1993) results regarding the influence of contest difficulty, his suggestion that difficulty leads to goal acceptance was not. Valence for winning does not relate to attitude significantly in the study here, contrary to Murphy and Dacin's (1998) propositions. The article develops an integrative model with implications for research and practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Poujol, F. Juliet & Fournier, Christophe & Tanner Jr., John F., 2011. "Compliance versus preference: Understanding salesperson response to contests," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 64(7), pages 664-671, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbrese:v:64:y:2011:i:7:p:664-671

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Murphy, William H., 2004. "In pursuit of short-term goals: anticipating the unintended consequences of using special incentives to motivate the sales force," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 57(11), pages 1265-1275, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jaramillo, Fernando & Mulki, Jay Prakash & Boles, James S., 2013. "Bringing meaning to the sales job: The effect of ethical climate and customer demandingness," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(11), pages 2301-2307.


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