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Goals (th)at Work – Goals, Monetary Incentives, and Workers’ Performance

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Goerg,  Sebastian J.
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Max Planck Society;

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Kube,  Sebastian
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Goerg, S. J., & Kube, S. (2012). Goals (th)at Work – Goals, Monetary Incentives, and Workers’ Performance.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0028-6E32-E
Abstract
In a randomized field experiment, we investigate the connection between work goals, monetary incentives, and work performance. Employees are observed in a natural work environment where they have to do a simple, but effort-intense task. Output is perfectly observable and workers are paid for performance. While a regular piece-rate contract serves as a benchmark, in some treatments workers are paid a bonus conditional on reaching a pre-specified goal. We observe that the use of personal work goals leads to a significant output increase. The positive effect of goals not only prevails if they are self-chosen by the workers, but also if goals are set exogenously by the principal – although in the latter case, the exact size of the goal plays a crucial role. Strikingly, the positive effect of self-chosen goals persists even if the goal is not backed up by monetary incentives. We propose a novel incentive contract where – through the choice of a personal work goal – workers themselves determine the risk and the size of their bonus payment at the same time.