How the Timing of Performance Feedback Impacts Individual Performance

AAA 2011 Management Accounting Section (MAS) Meeting Paper

Posted: 20 Dec 2010 Last revised: 17 Oct 2016

Todd A. Thornock

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - School of Accountancy

Date Written: March 31, 2016

Abstract

Using a multi-step task setting where learning can help improve individual task performance, I experimentally examine the effect of the timing of performance feedback in an initial period on future task performance when this feedback is absent. I find an inverted-U relation between the timing of feedback and future performance. When feedback is provided before implementation of an initial decision, high learning costs discourage individuals from learning in the initial period to the detriment of future performance. Further, when feedback is provided after extended delays beyond implementation of a decision, learning costs increase relative to those present when feedback is provided after a short delay, resulting in lower learning and future performance. As such, I find that providing feedback immediately following implementation of a decision most effectively promotes learning and future performance as this is the point at which learning costs are lowest. My study extends prior research on feedback timing by incorporating the notion that learning costs fluctuate throughout the phases of a multi-step task and offers practical implications for designing performance evaluation and feedback systems.

Keywords: Performance feedback, incentives, compensation contract, outcome feedback, timing of feedback, performance, learning

Suggested Citation

Thornock, Todd A., How the Timing of Performance Feedback Impacts Individual Performance (March 31, 2016). AAA 2011 Management Accounting Section (MAS) Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1728753 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1728753

Todd A. Thornock (Contact Author)

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - School of Accountancy ( email )

307 College of Business Administration
Lincoln, NE 68588-0488
United States

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