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Using Relative Performance Information in Complex Tasks

33 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2010 Last revised: 10 Mar 2016

Timothy Charles Miller

Xavier University - Department of Accountancy

W. Timothy Mitchell

University of Massachusetts - Isenberg School of Management

Sean A. Peffer

University of Kentucky - Gatton College of Business and Economics

Date Written: February 15, 2013

Abstract

Companies commonly use income as the basis for short-term incentives designed to motivate performance. Managing income is a complex task, particularly in multi-period settings. Strategy development is necessary to maximize income in a complex task, and requires trade-offs between current and future periods. In addition, Relative Performance Information (RPI) is often provided, or available as feedback, to motivate performance. While firms have the option of taking the additional step and contracting on RPI, many do not. We separately investigate how providing RPI and contracting on RPI affect strategy development in a multi-period experimental setting where income is the basis for short-term incentives. The results show that only providing RPI reduces strategy development and performance. However, contracting on RPI mitigates these effects. Our results suggest a potential cost to this ‘middle ground’ between eliminating RPI and contracting on RPI. We conclude that employers incenting their managers to maximize income in a multi-period setting should avoid the dissemination of RPI as ex post information only.

Keywords: Strategy development, learning, comparative feedback, goals, rank-order tournaments

JEL Classification: M40, M46

Suggested Citation

Miller, Timothy Charles and Mitchell, W. Timothy and Peffer, Sean A., Using Relative Performance Information in Complex Tasks (February 15, 2013). 2016 Canadian Academic Accounting Association (CAAA) Annual Conference. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1658642 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1658642

Timothy Charles Miller

Xavier University - Department of Accountancy ( email )

United States

William Timothy Mitchell (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts - Isenberg School of Management ( email )

Amherst, MA 01003-4910
United States
4135750012 (Phone)
4135453858 (Fax)

Sean Peffer

University of Kentucky - Gatton College of Business and Economics ( email )

550 South Limestone
Lexington, KY 40506
United States
606-257-3149 (Phone)
606-257-3654 (Fax)

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