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Motivational Spillovers from Awards: Crowding Out in a Multitasking Environment

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  • Timothy Gubler

    () (School of Business Administration, University of California, Riverside, California 92521)

  • Ian Larkin

    () (Anderson School of Management, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095)

  • Lamar Pierce

    () (Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri 63130)

Abstract

This paper uses data from an attendance award program implemented at one of five industrial laundry plants to show the complex costs of corporate awards previously ignored in the literature. We show that although the attendance award had direct, positive effects on employees who previously had punctuality problems, it also led to strategic gaming behavior centered on the specific eligibility criteria for the award. The award program temporarily changed behavior in award-eligible workers but did not habituate improved attendance. Furthermore, we show that the extrinsic reward from the award program crowded out the internal motivation of those employees who had previously demonstrated excellent attendance, generating worse punctuality during periods of ineligibility. Most novelly, we show that the attendance award program also crowded out internal motivation and performance in tasks not included in the award program. Workers with above average pre-program attendance lost 8% efficiency in daily laundry tasks after the program’s introduction. We argue that these motivational spillovers result from the perceived inequity of internally motivated workers’ previously unrewarded superior attendance contributions. Our paper suggests that even purely symbolic awards can generate gaming and crowding out costs that may spill over to other important tasks.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy Gubler & Ian Larkin & Lamar Pierce, 2016. "Motivational Spillovers from Awards: Crowding Out in a Multitasking Environment," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(2), pages 286-303, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ororsc:v:27:y:2016:i:2:p:286-303
    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.2016.1047
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/orsc.2016.1047
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    3. Christiane Bradler & Robert Dur & Susanne Neckermann & Arjan Non, 2016. "Employee Recognition and Performance: A Field Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(11), pages 3085-3099, November.
    4. Mohammed Saud Mira* & Dr. Yap Voon Choong & Dr. Chan Kok Thim, 2018. "The Role of Job Satisfaction as Mediator Between Human Resource Practices and Employees' Performance Among the Cargos' Employees at Saudi Ports Authority Based on the Motivation Theories," The Journal of Social Sciences Research, Academic Research Publishing Group, pages 91-105:4.
    5. AAlessio Reghezza & Jonathan Williams & Philip Molyneux, 2019. "Mitigating misleading implications for policy: Treatment of outliers in a difference-indifferences framework," Working Papers 19014, Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales).
    6. Robinson, Carly D. & Gallus, Jana & Lee, Monica G. & Rogers, Todd, 2018. "The Demotivating Effect (and Unintended Message) of Retrospective Awards," Working Paper Series rwp18-020, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    7. Brianne Eby & Amanda R. Carrico & Heather Barnes Truelove, 2019. "The influence of environmental identity labeling on the uptake of pro-environmental behaviors," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 155(4), pages 563-580, August.
    8. Johan Graafland, 2020. "Competition in technology and innovation, motivation crowding, and environmental policy," Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 27(1), pages 137-145, January.
    9. Lamar Pierce & Alex Rees-Jones & Charlotte Blank, 2020. "The Negative Consequences of Loss-Framed Performance Incentives," NBER Working Papers 26619, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Tomasz Obloj & Todd Zenger, 2017. "Organization Design, Proximity, and Productivity Responses to Upward Social Comparison," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 28(1), pages 1-18, February.
    11. Christiane Bradler & Susanne Neckermann, 2019. "The Magic of the Personal Touch: Field Experimental Evidence on Money and Appreciation as Gifts," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 121(3), pages 1189-1221, July.
    12. Wei Shi & Yan Zhang & Robert E. Hoskisson, 2017. "Ripple Effects of CEO Awards: Investigating the Acquisition Activities of Superstar CEOs' Competitors," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(10), pages 2080-2102, October.
    13. Kateřina Knorová –Jana Fibírová, 2020. "Work motivation. Self-determination theory: literature review [Motivace v pracovním prostředí. Teorie sebeurčení a její vývoj: Literární rešerše]," Český finanční a účetní časopis, Prague University of Economics and Business, vol. 2020(3-4).
    14. Kuhn, Peter J. & Yu, Lizi, 2021. "Kinks as Goals: Accelerating Commissions and the Performance of Sales Teams," IZA Discussion Papers 14115, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    15. Timothy Gubler & Ian Larkin & Lamar Pierce, 2018. "Doing Well by Making Well: The Impact of Corporate Wellness Programs on Employee Productivity," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 64(11), pages 4967-4987, November.
    16. Maria Cotofan, 2019. "Learning from Praise: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Teachers," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 19-082/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    17. David Barrett, 2018. "An Honours System for Ireland," Working Papers 201824, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    18. Lo, Jade Y. & Li, Haiyang, 2018. "In the eyes of the beholder: The effect of participant diversity on perceived merits of collaborative innovations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(7), pages 1229-1242.

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