The Effects of Preventive and Detective Controls on Employee Performance and Motivation
39 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2009 Last revised: 8 Apr 2011
Date Written: April 6, 2011
We examine how two attributes of preventive and detective controls affect employee performance and employee motivation. Specifically, we examine how the extent to which controls (1) restrict employees’ autonomy, and (2) provide more or less timely feedback impacts employees’ performance and intrinsic motivation. These characteristics are the defining differences between preventive and detective controls in that preventive controls restrict employee autonomy relative to detective controls and preventive controls always provide immediate feedback; whereas, detective controls can provide either immediate feedback or delayed feedback. We conduct an experiment to examine how and why these two types of formal controls impact employees’ performance in an incomplete contract setting in which one dimension of the employees’ task is compensated and one dimension is controlled. The results show that detective controls with more timely feedback improve employees’ performance toward the control objective, without affecting their intrinsic motivation. In contrast, the restriction of autonomy associated with preventive controls, has no additional effect on employees’ performance toward the control objective over detective controls with timely feedback but significantly reduces employees’ motivation. Neither control characteristic has a significant effect on employees’ performance on the compensated dimension of the task, suggesting that monetary incentives continue to provide an effective motivation. Our results reveal the importance of designing and implementing controls that provide timely feedback but do not restrict autonomy.
Keywords: Internal Controls, Preventive Controls, Detective Controls, and Intrinsic Motivation
JEL Classification: M40, M41, L86, C91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation