The Effect of Supervisors’ Prior Task Performance on Employees’ Targets

57 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2016 Last revised: 1 Sep 2021

See all articles by Christoph Feichter

Christoph Feichter

WU Vienna University of Economics and Business

Date Written: August 31, 2021

Abstract

In three experiments, I investigate how supervisors’ task performance in lower-level jobs prior to being promoted to the supervisory level influences the targets they set for employees. I propose that supervisors show an egocentric “experience bias” by which they overemphasize their own experiences when setting targets for employees. As such, supervisors who achieved high performance before being promoted set higher targets than low-performing supervisors, despite having the same information about the employee’s potential. In line with my prediction, I find that supervisors exhibit this bias if they have worked on the employees’ task but that this bias is absent when they previously did a different task. I also show that this bias comes from a limited awareness that own experiences are not generalizable and it likely prevails in many managerial situations. The biased targets also lead to negative employee reactions. This study contributes to the understanding of supervisor target setting.

Keywords: Target Setting, Supervisor Discretion, Experience Bias

Suggested Citation

Feichter, Christoph, The Effect of Supervisors’ Prior Task Performance on Employees’ Targets (August 31, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2803160 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2803160

Christoph Feichter (Contact Author)

WU Vienna University of Economics and Business ( email )

Welthandelsplatz 1, Building D1, 3rd Floor
Vienna, 1020
Austria

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