Clock Time Versus Event Time: Temporal Culture or Self-Regulation?
Yeshiva University - Syms School of Business
NYU Stern School of Business
December 20, 2010
Cross-cultural research documented two types of temporal culture governing the way individuals schedule tasks over time: clock-time, where individuals let an external clock dictate when tasks begin/end; and event-time, where tasks are planned relative to other tasks and individuals transition between them when they internally sense that the former task is complete. In contrast with this prior literature – that credits culture as the reason for variation in temporal norms – we show in two experiments that individuals choose clock- versus event-time as a self-regulation strategy to achieve a regulatory goal (efficiency vs. effectiveness). A third experiment shows that this strategy enhances confidence and performance on a task. Participants solved significantly more math problems when their task scheduling (clock- vs. event-time) matched their regulatory state (promotion vs. prevention). Since clock-/event-time may both lead to superior performance, clock-time is not the single best way to organize productive activities in industrial societies – a result that counters a foundational principle of modern economics.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 12
Keywords: Self regulatory, promotion, regulatory focus, culture, time, event time, clock timeworking papers series
Date posted: August 26, 2010 ; Last revised: February 21, 2011
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