The Effects of Tiered Goals When Performers Receive Fixed and Incentive Pay

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Alyce Dickinson

Second Advisor

Dr. Bradley Huitema

Third Advisor

Dr. Heather McGee


Goals, incentives, organizational behavior management, tiered goals, behavior analysis

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Abstract Only

Restricted to Campus until



The purpose of this study was to compare the performance of participants when they were given tiered goals and received fixed or incentive pay. An ordered treatment design was used with 104 undergraduate students randomly assigned to one of the following conditions: (a) fixed pay without tiered goals; (b) fixed pay with tiered goals; (c) piece-rate pay without tiered goals; and (d) piece-rate pay with tiered goals. Participants performed a computerized simulated medical data-entry task and the primary dependent variable was the average number of correctly completed medical records per session. Participants attended one 45-minute covariate session and five 45-minute experimental sessions. A rank-based ANCOVA monotone method was used to evaluate the hypothesis that performance would be (1) highest for piece-rate pay with tiered goals, (2) intermediate for both fixed pay with tiered goals and piece-rate pay without tiered goals, and (3) lowest for fixed pay without tiered goals. The results of the main monotonic analysis were consistent with this hypothesis. A secondary analysis demonstrated that performance did not differ significantly between the two conditions expected to produce intermediate level performance. The results of the main analysis indicate that the combination of goals and incentives is likely to maximize performance in organizations, and the results of the secondary analysis are important due to the relative ease of implementing tiered goals as opposed to piece-rate pay.

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