The Effects of Anticipation and Recognition Source in Employee Recognition Programs

41 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2016 Last revised: 24 Dec 2016

See all articles by Joe Burke

Joe Burke

Indiana University

Gary Hecht

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Matthew Stern

DePaul University; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Date Written: December 1, 2016

Abstract

Firms are increasing their use of non-monetary recognition, the recognition of high performing employees via pure acknowledgment (e.g., employee of the month). Despite its prevalent use, the behavioral impact of non-monetary recognition has received minimal research attention. We investigate the impact of two dimensions of non-monetary recognition programs on employees’ effort and alignment with the firm and its managers. Specifically, we examine the effects of (1) the extent to which employees anticipate (i.e., are aware of) the potential for recognition and (2) the source of the recognition. We predict and find that employees’ propensity to exert reciprocal effort following unanticipated recognition is greater when the employee is recognized by their immediate manager than when they are recognized by the (more general) firm. Notably, our theory highlights a possible unintended consequence of recognition – the potential for employees to reciprocate to their managers, even when reciprocated effort is to the detriment of the firm.

Keywords: recognition; non-monetary recognition; reciprocity; anticipated rewards; employee acknowledgment

Suggested Citation

Burke, Joseph and Hecht, Gary and Stern, Matthew and Stern, Matthew, The Effects of Anticipation and Recognition Source in Employee Recognition Programs (December 1, 2016). AAA 2017 Management Accounting Section (MAS) Meeting, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2823837

Joseph Burke (Contact Author)

Indiana University ( email )

1309 E. 10th Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Gary Hecht

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

601 E John St
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Matthew Stern

DePaul University ( email )

1 East Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

601 E John St
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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