The Effects of Incentive Scheme and Task Difficulty on Employees’ Altruistic Behavior Outside the Firm
48 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 4, 2019
Employer-sponsored opportunities for altruism outside the workplace can improve employee engagement and passion within the firm, enhance the firm’s corporate visibility, and improve its recruitment. There is limited understanding of whether and how a firm’s management control system on employees’ daily tasks can influence employee willingness to engage in altruism outside the workplace. In this study, we investigate via an experiment how the incentive scheme (tournament vs. piece-rate) on employees’ daily tasks interacts with the difficulty level of these tasks (low vs. high) to affect employees’ altruistic behavior outside the firm. Our results indicate that, compared to a piece-rate scheme, a tournament scheme leads to a greater decrease in non-winning participants’ altruistic behavior outside the firm when the original, incentivized task is more difficult compared to when it is less difficult. Consistent with our theory, participants’ feelings of excessive entitlement partially mediate the interaction effect of incentive scheme and task difficulty on participants’ altruistic behavior outside the firm. This study informs firms about how the design of its incentive scheme on employees’ daily task inside the firm and the nature of that task can influence employee willingness to act altruistically outside the firm.
Keywords: altruistic behavior; excessive entitlement; tournaments; incentives; task difficulty
JEL Classification: M14, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation