Do employees care about their relative income position? Behavioral evidence focusing on performance in professional team sport

Frey, Bruno S., Schaffner, Markus, Schmidt, Sascha L., & Torgler, Benno (2013) Do employees care about their relative income position? Behavioral evidence focusing on performance in professional team sport. Social Science Quarterly, 94(4), pp. 912-932.

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Objective Do employees care about their relative (economic) position in comparison to their co-workers in an organization? And if so, does it raise or lower their performance? While the topic is widely discussed in the literature, behavioral evidence on these important questions is relatively rare.

Methods This article explores the pay-performance relationship using a sports data set. The strength of analyzing such data is that sports tournaments take place in a very controlled environment that helps to isolate a relative income effect.

Results Using two large unique data sets that cover 26 seasons in basketball and eight seasons in soccer (Bundesliga), we find considerable support for the idea that a relative income disadvantage is correlated with a decrease in individual performance. In addition, there does not seem to be any tolerance for income disparity based on the hope that such differences may signal that better times are ahead.

Conclusions This suggests the need to consider the impact of the relative income position when designing pay-for-performance mechanisms within firms and teams.

Impact and interest:

2 citations in Scopus
2 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 65318
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1111/ssqu.12024
ISSN: 0038-4941
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Economics & Finance
Deposited On: 18 Dec 2013 01:53
Last Modified: 03 Jan 2014 01:13

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