Goal Setting and Monetary Incentives: When Large Stakes Are Not Enough
55 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2012 Last revised: 15 Jan 2014
Date Written: December 19, 2013
The aim of this paper is to test the effectiveness of wage-irrelevant goal setting policies in a laboratory environment. In our design, managers can assign a goal to their workers by setting a certain level of performance on the work task. We establish our theoretical conjectures by developing a model in which assigned goals act as reference points to workers’ intrinsic motivation. Consistent with our model, we find that managers set goals which are challenging but attainable for an average-ability worker. Workers respond to these goals by increasing effort, performance and by decreasing on-the-job leisure activities with respect to the no-goal setting baseline. Finally, we study the interaction between goal setting and monetary rewards and find, in line with our theoretical model, that goal setting is most effective when monetary incentives are strong. These results suggest that goal setting may produce intrinsic motivation and increase workers’ performance beyond what is achieved using solely monetary incentives.
Keywords: Intrinsic motivation, incentives, goal-setting, reference dependent preferences, virtual organizations
JEL Classification: C92, D23, M54
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation