Me vs. We: The Effect of Incomplete Team Member Feedback on Cooperation of Self-Regarding Individuals

39 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2015 Last revised: 8 Jul 2020

See all articles by Tyler F. Thomas

Tyler F. Thomas

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Todd A. Thornock

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - School of Accountancy

Date Written: November 10, 2015

Abstract

We examine the effect that feedback of team member contributions to team production has on individuals’ subsequent contributions to team production, specifically for self-regarding individuals (proselfs). Prior literature outlines the adverse effects of free riding, a behavior in which self-regarding individuals often engage. We evaluate how proselfs respond differentially to the type of feedback about team member contributions; input (i.e., time contributed) compared to output (i.e., production units contributed), and whether feedback type can mitigate free riding. We predict that when proselfs view low team member contributions, they will respond more negatively following input feedback than output feedback. Input feedback can provide a stronger signal of effort choice, so low input feedback will be interpreted as intentional. Further, we predict that proselfs’ positive responses will be lower following input feedback, as proselfs are more likely to interpret input feedback in a self-serving manner, which tempers their positive responses. We provide experimental evidence that following input feedback, proselfs respond more negatively to low team contributions and less positively to high team contributions. These responses to input feedback adversely affect team performance. Our findings outline that providing output feedback has the potential to mitigate proselfs’ free riding.

Keywords: Effort allocation, feedback, reciprocity, social value orientation

Suggested Citation

Thomas, Tyler F. and Thornock, Todd A., Me vs. We: The Effect of Incomplete Team Member Feedback on Cooperation of Self-Regarding Individuals (November 10, 2015). AAA 2016 Management Accounting Section (MAS) Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2646018 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2646018

Tyler F. Thomas (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

Wisconsin School of Business
975 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706
United States

Todd A. Thornock

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

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

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