Mitigating the Potentially Demotivating Effects of Early and Frequent Feedback About Goal Progress

52 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2018 Last revised: 23 Mar 2019

See all articles by Vic Anand

Vic Anand

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Accountancy

Alan Webb

University of Waterloo - School of Accounting and Finance

Christopher Wong

Wilfrid Laurier University - Accounting; University of Waterloo - School of Accounting and Finance

Date Written: September 24, 2018

Abstract

Advances in information technology have enabled organizations to provide highly frequent feedback on goal progress. Although frequent feedback can provide timely information to individuals to improve task strategies, prior research has also shown that individuals are more likely to fixate on recent results (Lurie and Swaminathan 2009). If early feedback about performance relative to a goal is unfavorable and provided frequently, individuals may incorrectly infer a low probability of goal attainment. Thus, absent an intervention, we predict that early and frequent unfavorable feedback will reduce effort duration and, in turn, performance. However, we also predict that increasing the salience of goal attainability vis-à-vis a simple reminder about the likelihood of goal attainment will weaken the negative effects of early and frequent unfavorable feedback on effort duration and performance. Results from an experiment using undergraduate students support both predictions. We find that early, frequent, unfavorable feedback results in reduced effort duration and performance, and that our intervention completely mitigates these effects. Implications for practice and theory are discussed.

Keywords: feedback, feedback frequency, goals, expectancy

JEL Classification: D90, D81, M41, M52

Suggested Citation

Anand, Vikrant and Webb, Alan and Wong, Christopher, Mitigating the Potentially Demotivating Effects of Early and Frequent Feedback About Goal Progress (September 24, 2018). AAA 2019 Management Accounting Section (MAS) Meeting; 2019 Canadian Academic Accounting Association (CAAA) Annual Conference. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3226304 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3226304

Vikrant Anand (Contact Author)

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

1206 South Sixth Street
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Alan Webb

University of Waterloo - School of Accounting and Finance ( email )

200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1 N2L 3G1
Canada

Christopher Wong

Wilfrid Laurier University - Accounting ( email )

United States

University of Waterloo - School of Accounting and Finance ( email )

200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1 N2L 3G1
Canada

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