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Does Performance Pay De-Motivate, and Does It Matter?

  • Stephen French
  • Katsuyuki Kubo
  • David Marsden

The sheer scale and speed of the shift of payment system from time-based salaries to performance-related pay, PRP, in the British public services provides a unique opportunity to test the effects of incentive pay schemes. This study is based on the first large scale survey designed to measure the effects of performance related pay on a) employee motivation and work behaviour across the British public services; and b) workplace performance. The latter uses an index of organisational performance based on line-manager judgements. While there is evidence of a clear incentive effect for those gaining above average PRP, it is likely that it is offset by a more widespread de-motivating effect arising from difficulties of measuring and evaluating performance fairly. These motivational outcomes are found to affect workplace performance. Organisational commitment appears to offset some of the negative effects of PRP. In contrast to the many studies of top executives, sales and sports personnel, our study examines PRP for large numbers of ordinary employees.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0503.

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Date of creation: Aug 2001
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0503
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Stephen Machin, 2000. "Union Decline in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0455, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Stephen Nickell & Luca Nunziata & Wolfgang Ochel & Glenda Quintini, 2001. "The Beveridge Curve, Unemployment and Wages in the OECD from the 1960s to the 1990s - Preliminary Version," CEP Discussion Papers dp0502, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. Editors : & David Marsden & Hugh Stephenson, 2001. "Labour Law and Social Insurance in the New Economy: A Debate on the Supiot Report," CEP Discussion Papers dp0500, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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