Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Carrots, not sticks, motivate workers

Date:
June 20, 2012
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
The promise of reward motivates people to work harder than the threat of penalty, a new study finds.

A study co-authored by MSU business scholar Karen Sedatole suggests workers respond better to the promise of reward, or carrots, than they do the threat of punishment, or sticks.
Credit: Photo illustration by G.L. Kohuth

What motivates people to work harder: The promise of reward or the threat of penalty?

A new study co-authored by a Michigan State University business scholar says it's the carrot -- and not the stick -- that drives productivity.

The study, which appears in The Accounting Review, challenges previous research that says the threat of penalty is more effective for getting increased effort, said Karen Sedatole, associate professor of accounting in MSU's Broad College of Business.

"Our findings show what carrots work better than sticks -- in other words, workers respond better to bonuses than penalties," Sedatole said.

Sedatole authored the study -- titled "Sticks and Carrots: The Effect of Contract Frame on Effort in Incomplete Contracts" -- with Margaret Christ of the University of Georgia and Kristy Towry of Emory University.

The researchers conducted a scientific experiment in which participants played the role of supervisor and employee. Some employees were subjected to a bonus program implemented by the supervisor, while others worked under a penalty system.

Employees subjected to the bonus exhibited more effort and this was driven by greater trust in the supervisor. Sedatole said the study is the first to identify this trust factor.

"What this means for companies is that employees who receive bonuses for their efforts will work even harder, increasing productivity and potentially bolstering profits," Sedatole said. "But those subjected to penalties tend to distrust the supervisor and, because of that, work less hard."

Examples of penalties in the business world include pay reduction, demotion and sanction or other disciplinary action, such as a salesperson with lower performance getting less territory to work.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Margaret H. Christ, Karen L. Sedatole, Kristy L. Towry. Sticks and Carrots: The Effect of Contract Frame on Effort in Incomplete Contracts. The Accounting Review, 2012; 120615093512009 DOI: 10.2308/accr-50219

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Carrots, not sticks, motivate workers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120620113238.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2012, June 20). Carrots, not sticks, motivate workers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120620113238.htm
Michigan State University. "Carrots, not sticks, motivate workers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120620113238.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) California lawmakers pass a bill requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on campuses. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) In the midst of a historic drought, Los Angeles is increasing efforts to go after people who waste water. Five water conservation "cops" drive around the city every day educating homeowners about the drought. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Who Could Be Burnt by WHO's E-Cigs Move?

Who Could Be Burnt by WHO's E-Cigs Move?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 28, 2014) The World Health Organisation has called for the regulation of electronic cigarettes as both tobacco and medical products. Ciara Lee looks at the impact of the move on the tobacco industry. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
JPMorgan Chase Confirms Possible Cyber Attack

JPMorgan Chase Confirms Possible Cyber Attack

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 28, 2014) Attackers stole checking and savings account information and lots of other data from JPMorgan Chase, according to the New York Times. Other banks are believed to be victims as well. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins