The Effect of Input and Output Targets for Routine Tasks on Creative Task Performance

35 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2014 Last revised: 8 Sep 2015

Alexander Brueggen

Maastricht University

Christoph Feichter

Maastricht University

Michael G. Williamson

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Accountancy

Date Written: September 2015

Abstract

In an environment where employees have the freedom to direct some time away from their day-to-day, routine tasks to work on creative endeavors, we examine whether nonbinding targets for the amount of time to spend (input target) and/or the amount of output to produce (output target) on the routine task affects creative task performance. Results of a laboratory experiment demonstrate that providing both an input and output target on the routine task leads to greater creative task performance relative to providing one or none of these targets. This result is consistent with theory suggesting that individuals need guidance as to how much routine work to complete in order to achieve the cognitive closure necessarily for them to think creatively. However, individuals also need guidance that encourages them to limit time on their relatively comfortable routine work and spend time on more open-ended creative endeavors. By setting expectations as to what employees need to achieve in their more routine, day-to-day responsibilities, organizations can increase the efficacy of the growing practice of suggesting that employees spend a portion of their work week on creative endeavors.

Keywords: Management Control Systems, Target Setting, Creativity, Multi-Task, Experiment

JEL Classification: M40, M41, M54

Suggested Citation

Brueggen, Alexander and Feichter, Christoph and Williamson, Michael G., The Effect of Input and Output Targets for Routine Tasks on Creative Task Performance (September 2015). AAA 2016 Management Accounting Section (MAS) Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2480917 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2480917

Alexander Brueggen

Maastricht University ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200 MD
Netherlands

Christoph Feichter (Contact Author)

Maastricht University ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200MD
Netherlands

Michael G. Williamson

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Accountancy ( email )

1206 South Sixth Street
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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