Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Alyce M. Dickinson

Second Advisor

Dr. Heather M. McGee

Third Advisor

Dr. Bradley E. Huitema

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Kevin Munson


Incentives, organizational behavior management, goal setting, pay systems. performance


This study examined the relative effects of three incentive pay systems, piece-rate pay, threshold piece-rate pay, and bonus pay, on performance when individuals were given the same five-tiered performance goals. A fourth system, wage pay, served as a control. The task was a computerized simulation of a medical data entry job and the primary dependent variable was the number of correctly completed patient records. Sixty-six college students were randomly assigned to one of the four pay conditions, and attended one 60-minute covariate session and five 60-minute experimental sessions. Participants in the wage pay condition earned $6.50 per session; those in the three incentive pay conditions earned a base rate of $4.50 per session, and were able to earn up to $3.00 in incentive pay. An analysis of covariance showed no significant differences in performance among any of the four pay groups, or across time. Such findings indicate that organizations may be able to produce gains in performance similar to those found with incentive pay, through the use of tiered goals and feedback. These findings contradict past data that show that performance contingent monetary incentives produce gains in performance above what is seen with wage pay alone. The findings also support a limited body of research that suggests the effects of incentive pay systems may be strongly influenced by performance goals. Analysis of additional variables, further implications, and future directions for research are discussed in detail.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access