Seijts and Marsden: Performance Motivation Policy Dynamics
Seijts and Marsden 1Seijts and Marsden: Performance Motivation Policy Dynamics Edgardo Donovan RES 601 – Dr. Roger Rensvold Module 2 – Case Analysis Monday, August 4, 2008
Seijts and Marsden 2 Seijts and Marsden: Performance Motivation Policy Dynamics Epistemology Published in the “Academy of Management Journal”, Gerard Seijts, Gary Latham,Kevin Tasa, and Brandon Latham’s research entitled “Goal Setting and Goal Orientation: AnIntegration of Two Different Yet Related Literatures” attempts to integrate classical theoreticalapproaches regarding goal setting and goal orientation while integrating a wealth of quantitativestatistical data in an attempt to understand the emotional and rational dynamics impact onlearning and productivity. The research attempts to point to correlations between certainphysiological states and their impact on professional behavior affecting employee behavior.Many external references are weaved into the research in an attempt to tie it in with pastscholarship thereby adding a greater sense of thoroughness. This research is follows a post-positivist construct in that it draws theory from a variety of literary sources then attempts toempirically discern theoretical validity or lack thereof. Published in Cornell University’s “Industrial and Labor Relations Review”, DavidMarsden’s research entitled “The Role of Performance-Related Pay in Renegotiating the EffortBargain: The Case of the British Public Service” argues that rather than an ad-hoc performancestimulator, performance incentive pay is more adept to initiating negotiation of establishedorganizational performance versus pay norms. The research attempts to bridge two traditionallyinstitutionalized practices: performance incentive pay as an entry point for collective bargaining.This research follows a post-positivist construct in that it draws theory from a variety of literarysources but offers a myopic empirical analysis which fails to transmit a sense of reliability ifapplied elsewhere.
Seijts and Marsden 3 Ontology Both the Marsden and Seijts studies are published in journals with strong practitionerorientation. The Seijts study seemingly expands on the broad consensus regarding Goal Settingand Goal Orientation theory in that it theorizes that the learning of complex tasks are adept togoal orientation. Marsden postulates that performance incentive pay is dysfunctional in mostcases and thereby breaking away from a long standing industrial and managerial operationalizedpractice. Instead he attempts to bridge the inconsistencies in performance pay dynamics studiesof the past 40 years with collective bargaining dynamics studies which began to originate over acentury ago. One of the problems with Marsden’s work is that he uses the British public sector as hisprimary evidence source to discredit the value of performance incentive pay. Given that theproposed evidence is constrained to a particular area of a national public sector, it is verydifficult to operationalize elsewhere taking away from its consistency potential. For example,based on Marsden’s theory, the entire US private-sector sales industry largely driven bycommission sales would not be able to exist. Furthermore, the idea that harmful divisivenesswould occur each time a salesman made or did not make a sale is anti-ethical to any idea ofperformance based remuneration which is the essence of any market based economy. Thetendency to advocate that the price of labor be the product of collective bargaining betweendifferent economic blocks rather than individual performance is eerily similar to over a hundredyears of economic studies stemming from Karl Marx. Interestingly enough, references to thatlong established tradition are absent. Perhaps Marsden wanted to represent older theories within
Seijts and Marsden 4a modern capitalist context without advocating a radical departure from a market basedeconomy. Regardless, Marsden’s work ignores the fact that in order to offer performanceincentive pay an organization needs to have a large enough profit/cost window to draw from. Ifthe financial incentive is not worth the employee’s time they simply will not pursue it negatingany need for further collective bargaining. Marsden does not specify that although collectivebargaining gives groups of employees more negotiation cohesion it does not create any extraoperational efficiencies leading to greater profit to be shared among them. This would have beenharder to ignore if he would have began his research by examining an industry in the private-sector or a performance based discipline like sales which operates very well using performanceincentive pay. Instead, he chose an element in the British public sector which traditionallyattracts people interested in stable pay and job security. He should have conducted a broaderreview of incentive pay and most certainly begin his research in the areas where it is utilized toits maximum effect: the private sector. Marsden spends considerable time explaining howincentive pay is not only dysfunctional but actually counterproductive as it lowers employeemorale. Again, the information he uses to postulate this theory focuses only on a particularportion of the British private-sector. Furthermore, the analysis does not define in measurableterms how perceived divisiveness actually impacts employee morale and productivity in theworkplace. Marsden states that collective bargaining can achieve what performance pay cannotwithin the British public sector. Perhaps the British government can save money by rolling backbenefits in order to create a profit potential to pass onto extraordinary performers. However, itwould be doubtful that people would give up a guaranteed benefit for potential incentive pay.Overall, the Marsden research has what can be perceived as an advocative type study which
Seijts and Marsden 5attempts to adapt its view of reality to accommodate its theories rather than the other wayaround. The Seijts study attempts to provide greater structure to Goal Setting and Goal Orientationtheories further consolidating their complementary support over the years. The hypothesis positsthat on a complex task, a specific challenging learning goal would lead to better performancethan an abstract goal or a specific challenging performance goal. What differentiates this studyfrom previous research is that it uses a highly complex task within the empirical experimentationprocess. The results add additional weight to conventional wisdom which postulates that specificlearning goals along with goal setting in general are positively correlated with learning andgreater performance. The study makes note of its greatest weakness being the narrow parametersof its research design which used business school students. There was not actual way to measureperformance as it is understood in the actual business world where bad performance usuallyinvolves losing money or getting fired. Methodology Marsden’s variables were perceived incentive, divisiveness, and performance levels.He postulated that perceived incentives was positively correlated to divisiveness and negativelycorrelated to performance levels. These variables were derived from questionnaire answered byemployees of the British public sector who answered according to a strongly agree/disagreescale. Opportunities for future research along Marsden’s premises exist in the realm ofcorporate restructuring and downsizing analysis. Those are situations which require massiveanalysis of the greater remuneration and labor and consequent position renegotiations which by
Seijts and Marsden 6virtue of unions in some cases may require collective bargaining. The parameters for the researchdesign of such magnitude would probably revolve around organizations or industries that haveexperienced significant inflection points by virtue of competitive landscape changes or newtechnological innovations. Seijts study variables were complex tasks, specific challenging learning goals, abstract “doyour best” goals, and performance. They were drawn from a series of tests involving businessschool university students. A potential next step for the Seijts research of this nature would be tobegin applying a similar design using actual active business sectors. If positive results along thelines of what was achieved here were to continue it would be necessary to expand the research ina variety of different business sectors that would also take into account they way differentprofessional disciplines understand complexity as well as acceptable learning objectives.
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