A Double-Edged Sword: How and Why Resetting Performance Metrics Affects Motivation and Performance

79 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2018 Last revised: 2 Jan 2019

See all articles by Hengchen Dai

Hengchen Dai

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management

Date Written: May 29, 2018

Abstract

Inside and outside of workplaces, individuals’ performance on a metric (e.g., sales) is often decoupled from past performance (rather than being tracked as a continuation of past performance). How do people respond to such performance resets, a type of fresh start on performance records, particularly when resets are not anticipated? Three laboratory experiments and one field study analyzing 40 years of data from professional baseball players demonstrate their impact. Specifically, unanticipated resets increase self-efficacy and thus boost motivation and future performance when they follow weak performance. However, such resets decrease self-efficacy and thus harm motivation and future performance when they follow strong performance. By identifying the conditions that determine whether performance resets improve or harm motivation, and highlighting the role of self-efficacy, this paper provides novel insights into how different ways of tracking performance influence motivation, as well as how fresh starts change behavior.

Keywords: Performance Resets, Fresh Starts, Mental Accounting, Motivation, Self-Efficacy

Suggested Citation

Dai, Hengchen, A Double-Edged Sword: How and Why Resetting Performance Metrics Affects Motivation and Performance (May 29, 2018). Dai, H. (2018). A double-edged sword: How resetting performance metrics affects future performance. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 148, 12-29. doi: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2018.06.002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3113083 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3113083

Hengchen Dai (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

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