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The Effects of Monitoring Environment on Problem-Solving Performance

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The Effects of Monitoring Environment on Problem-Solving Performance

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Abstract

While effective and efficient solving of everyday problems is important in business domains, little is known about the effects of workplace monitoring on problem-solving performance. In a laboratory experiment, we explored the monitoring environment's effects on an individual's propensity to 1) establish pattern solutions to problems, 2) recognize when pattern solutions are no longer efficient, and 3) solve complex problems. Under three work monitoring regimes-no monitoring, human monitoring, and electronic monitoring-114 participants solved puzzles for monetary rewards. Based on research related to worker autonomy and theory of social facilitation, we hypothesized that monitored (versus non-monitored) participants would 1) have more difficulty finding a pattern solution, 2) more often fail to recognize when the pattern solution is no longer efficient, and 3) solve fewer complex problems. Our results support the first two hypotheses, but in complex problem solving, an interaction was found between self-assessed ability and the monitoring environment.

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... Electronic monitoring and its effects have been explored and summaries in many different studies and practitioner reports in recent times prior to the pandemic (e.g., Abraham et al., 2019;Bhave, 2018;Bernstrøm and Martin et al., 2016;Ravid et al., 2020;Tomczak et al., 2018), the increase in monitoring was further accelerated in numerous countries due to the start of the pandemic in 2020 as many employers across the world adopted remote working practices (e.g., Allyn, 2020; Gustavsson and Söderlund, 2021;Hill, 2020;Isaak, 2020;Passetti et al., 2021). In addition to this body of work, many researchers focused on aspects such as technostress and performance (Atanasoff and Venable, 2017;Laird et al., 2018;Spagnoli et al., 2020), recognizing the role of how technology can impact individual health and wellness as well as organizational outcomes. A critical component for the employee experience is the purpose that drives the use of electronic performance monitoring (Ravid et al., 2020). ...
... Indeed, the 'employees' feeling of trust increases with the level of control over decisions at work and decreases relative to the level of monitoring at work" (Bernstrøm and Svare, 2017, p.43). Such positive effects can be fostered if employees are able to voice their concerns, participate in the design of the tool and the setting of standards, as well as the identification of appreciation and recognition means, and appropriate tool training (Laird et al., 2018;Kalischko and Riedl, 2021;Martin et al., 2016). As a result, employee reactions to electronic monitoring are often influenced by the motives behind the implementation of the monitoring systems, the use of these systems, and the extent to which employee needs are met and their voices heard (by the organizations and managers who are directly responsible for systems implementation). ...
... While close supervision is nothing new at work, the use of new digital tools on employee devices means that in many organizations, employer interests and employee needs at work are set to collide on several fronts. The potential impacts on employees' work experience, stress, performance but also counterproductive behavior at work further highlight the multiple facets that converge in relation to how performance is monitored (Laird et al., 2018, Martin et al., 2016Yost et al., 2019;Tomczak et al., 2020). ...
Article
This article now available online (open access): https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJWHM-02-2021-0042/full/html === Purpose This conceptual article outlines the known effects of employee monitoring on employees who are working remotely. Potential implications, as well as practitioner suggestions, are outlined to identify how practitioners can create more supportive employee experiences as well as apply these to workplace health management scenarios. Design/methodology/approach This overview is based on a selective and practically oriented review of articles that hitherto considered the health implications of remote workers being monitored electronically over the last two years. This overview is subsequently complemented by a discussion of more recent findings that outline the potential implications of monitoring for remote employees, employees' work experience and workplace health management. Findings Several practitioner-oriented suggestions are outlined that can pave the way to a more supportive employee experience for remote workers, who are monitored electronically by their employers. These include the various health and social interventions, greater managerial awareness about factors that influence well-being and more collaboration with health professionals to design interventions and new workplace policies. Organizations would also benefit from using audits and data analytics from monitoring tools to inform their interventions, while a rethink about work design, as well as organizational reviews of performance and working conditions further represent useful options to identify and set up the right conditions that foster both performance as well as employee well-being. Originality/value The article outlines practitioner-oriented suggestions that can directly and indirectly support employee well-being by recognizing the various factors that affect performance and experience.
... This means that data collected by EPM can be vast and diverse (i.e., "big data") but also ambiguous, from both an interpretability and an ethicality standpoint, compared to data collected using traditional monitoring (West & Bowman, 2016). Studies comparing EPM to traditional monitoring have found that EPM and traditional monitoring differ in their effects on employee work patterns (Griffith, 1993) and employee compliance (Boyce, 2017) and in the degree to which monitoring results in social facilitation effects (Aiello & Svec, 1993;Laird, Bailey, & Hester, 2018). ...
... Over the past two decades, scholars have increasingly moved away from examining EPM dichotomously (present or absent) toward more precise exploration of the effects of EPM characteristics, such as the purpose (e.g., Bartels & Nordstrom, 2012;Holman, Chissick, & Totterdell, 2002), timing (e.g., Alder, 2007;Watson et al., 2013), target (e.g., Ambrose & Alder, 2000), intensity (e.g., Alge, Ballinger, & Green, 2004;Laird et al., 2018), scope (e.g., Moorman & Wells, 2003), control (e.g., McNall & Stanton, 2011, feedback delivery (e.g., Holman et al., 2002;Moorman & Wells, 2003), transparency (e.g., Lowry, Posey, Bennett, & Roberts, 2015;McNall & Roch, 2009), and clarity (e.g., Holman et al., 2002). Results from EPM research conducted over the past 20 years suggest that to understand the effects of a particular use of EPM, one must examine the psychological characteristics of that use. ...
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Electronic performance monitoring (EPM) refers to the use of technological means to observe, record, and analyze information that directly or indirectly relates to job performance. The last comprehensive review of the EPM literature was published in 2000. Since 2000, dramatic advances in information technologies have created an environment in which organizations are able to monitor employees to a greater extent and with greater intensity than was previously possible. Moreover, since that time, considerable research has been devoted to understanding the effects of EPM on individual performance and attitudes. Contradictory findings in the EPM literature exist, suggesting that EPM is a multidimensional phenomenon and one for which contextual and psychological variables are pertinent. Thus, we propose a theory-based typology of EPM characteristics and use this typology as a framework to review the EPM literature and identify an agenda for future research and practice.
... compared to data collected using traditional monitoring (West & Bowman, 2016). Studies comparing EPM to traditional monitoring have found that EPM and traditional monitoring differ in their effects on employee work patterns (Griffith, 1993), employee compliance (Boyce, 2017), and in the degree to which monitoring results in social facilitation effects (Aiello & Svec, 1993;Laird, Bailey, & Hester, 2018). ...
... Over the past two decades, scholars have increasingly moved away from examining EPM dichotomously (present or absent), towards more precise exploration of the effects of EPM characteristics, such as the purpose (e.g., Bartels & Nordstrom, 2012;Holman, Chissick, & Totterdell, 2002), timing (e.g., Alder, 2007;Watson et al., 2013), target (e.g., Ambrose & Alder, 2000), intensity (e.g., Alge, Ballinger, & Green, 2004;Laird, et al., 2018), scope (e.g., Moorman & Wells, 2003), control (e.g., , feedback delivery (e.g., Holman, et al., 2002;Moorman & Wells, 2003) transparency (e.g., Lowry, Posey, Bennett, & Roberts, 2015;McNall & Roch, 2009), and clarity (e.g., Holman et al., 2002). Results from EPM research conducted over the past twenty years suggest that to understand the effects of a particular use of EPM, one must examine the psychological characteristics of that use. ...
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Electronic performance monitoring (EPM) refers to the use of technological means to observe, record, and analyze information that directly or indirectly relates to job performance. The last comprehensive review of the EPM literature was published in 2000. Since 2000, dramatic advances in information technologies have created an environment in which organizations are able to monitor employees to a greater extent and with greater intensity than was previously possible. Moreover, since that time, considerable research has been devoted to understanding the effects of EPM on individual performance and attitudes. Contradictory findings in the EPM literature exist, suggesting that EPM is a multi-dimensional phenomenon, and one for which contextual and psychological variables are pertinent. Thus, we propose a theory-based typology of EPM characteristics and use this typology as a framework to review the EPM literature and identify an agenda for future research and practice. Electronic performance monitoring (EPM) refers to the now-common use of technological means to observe, record, and analyze information that directly or indirectly relates to employee job performance (Bhave, 2014; Stanton, 2000). Advances in information technologies, the reduction of costs of those technologies, and a paradigm shift of work into cyberspace have created an environment in which organizations are able to monitor employees to a greater extent, and with greater intensity, than was previously possible (Holland, Cooper, & Hecker, 2015). Many forms of EPM (e.g., video monitoring, call monitoring, electronic medication administration records, GPS tracking, wearable electronic safety monitors, electronic time clock systems, email and internet usage monitoring) are already widely used, and technologies such as microchip wrist implants (e.g., Astor, 2017) and body heat sensor desk hardware (e.g., Morris, Griffin & Gower, 2017) may be the future of work monitoring. The world has changed dramatically in the twenty years since the last comprehensive review of EPM research was published (Stanton, 2000): for example, portable devices such as smartphones, capable of collecting large amounts of personal and behavioral data about employees, are ubiquitous today, but did not exist in 2000. This rapidly changing environment of information technologies, and the growing prevalence of EPM, make a theory-based and detailed understanding of the effects of EPM critical. Thus, the time is ripe to review and integrate the last two decades worth of EPM research, examine big questions in EPM that have developed over the last twenty years, and identify gaps in our knowledge, with the goal of advancing both theory and practice in this area. PREPRINT Corresponding author: Tara Behrend, Behrend@gwu.edu. 3 We begin our review by briefly discussing how EPM differs from traditional forms of performance monitoring and then discuss modern conceptualizations of EPM as multi-dimensional technologies. We next propose a theory-based typology of EPM characteristics and use the typology as a framework to review the EPM literature, with a particular focus on the past twenty years of research. Finally, based on our review, we identify avenues for future EPM research and implications for organizations. REVIEW METHOD To review the EPM literature, we conducted keyword searches on Google Scholar and cross-checked results with searches in PsycINFO and ABI-Inform. Key words included "electronic monitoring", "electronic performance monitoring", "EPM", "workplace surveillance", "workplace monitoring", and "computer monitoring". We also cross-checked results with references from key articles. We limited our search to peer-reviewed journal articles published in psychology, management, business, and human resource related fields. Although our review largely focuses on empirical research published in the twenty-first century, for the sake of inclusiveness, we did not limit our initial search by time. We next read through article abstracts to ensure content relevance, excluding articles that only focused on broad or traditional monitoring and articles that focused on non-employee EPM (e.g., marketing-focused
... This could for example be achieved with technologies like GPS tracking systems or camera-based motion tracking to create more natural, unobserved scenarios for the subjects. Similar systems have been applied and assessed in electronic monitoring (Laird et al., 2018; however, for individual responses to electronic monitoring, see Ravid et al., 2020). ...
Social facilitation is an old research topic in psychology with diverse results: Performance in cognitive or motor tasks is either facilitated, inhibited or not affected, argued to be a function of task complexity. In his narrative review, Strauss, B. (2002. Social facilitation in motor tasks: A review of research and theory. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 3(3), 237–256. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1469-0292(01)00019-X) found the presence of others to positively affect condition-based tasks (general drive hypothesis, Zajonc, R. B. (1965). Social facilitation. Science, 149(3681), 142–146. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.149.3681.269), and to negatively affect coordination-based tasks (capacity hypothesis, Manstead, A. S. R., & Semin, G. R. (1980). Social facilitation effects: Mere enhancement of dominant responses? British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19(2), 119–135. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8260.1980.tb00937.x). This systematic review and meta-analysis focused exclusively on movement-based tasks, identifies the prevalence and magnitude of social facilitation, moderated by condition- and coordination-demands. Through forward searches (Scopus, PsycINFO, Web of Science, Academic Search Premier, ProQuest Dissertations, OvidSP) and backward searches, we identified N = 82 human studies (7008 participants) over 100 years. In the systematic review, condition-based tasks are generally facilitated, while results of coordination-based tasks performed under time and precision pressure differed (cf. Bond, C. F., & Titus, L. J. (1983). Social facilitation: A meta-analysis of 241 studies. Psychological Bulletin, 94(2), 265–292. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.94.2.265). The meta-analytic moderator analysis of coordination- and condition-based tasks aligned with the systematic review. The experimenter’s influential presence was emphasized. We support the capacity hypothesis and draw conclusions for the state of the theory and experimental limitations specific to social facilitation research.
... For example, a study conducted on EPM functions and employee attitudes hypothesized that if people perceive monitoring technology as useful, this has a positive impact on work attitudes (Abraham et al., 2019). Similarly, when employees perceive the objective of electronic monitoring as to enhance their productivity and a chance to increase their performance (such as developmental EPM), they are more likely to accept the technology (Laird et al., 2018). ...
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This study aims to study the relationship between personality traits (conscientiousness and extraversion), electronic performance monitoring (EPM) and work passion. In addition, it investigates the mediating role of EPM between personality traits and work passion. Data was collected from 105 employees working in call centers throughout Pakistan. Partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM), using SmartPLS 3.0, was performed to test the hypothesized model. The results showed that consciousness and extraversion have a positive impact on EPM and work passion. In addition, EPM acts significantly as a mediator between personality traits and work passion among call center employees. This is the first study that examines the mediating role of EPM in the relation between personality differences and work passion. The results of the study would help Asian human resources professionals effectively perform human resources functions, such as employee staffing, training, and performance management. Implications for managers and recommendations for future studies are proposed.
... Outside of video games, digital audiences have been shown to influence people's performance in a similar way to collocated audiences (Aiello & Douthitt, 2001). In organizational settings, several studies found that electronic performance monitoring at employees' workplaces can influence their stress levels (Aiello & Kolb, 1995) and work performance (Claypoole, Neigel, Waldfogle, & Szalma, 2019;Laird, Bailey, & Hester, 2018). ...
Article
Game streaming is emerging as an increasingly popular form of social gaming even among non-professionals. As such, players have to adapt to the presence of a digital gaming audience consisting of people who are either synchronously or asynchronously participating in their performance and engaging with them remotely via digital media. While individuals’ experiences with physically collocated (non-digital) audiences is well-studied, it is still unclear whether digital audiences trigger similar socio-cognitive mechanisms or whether individuals process such audiences differently. The current research examined the potential impact of both synchronous and asynchronous digital gaming audiences on players’ feelings of closeness, as well as the social demand these audiences elicit, across both US and German players in two separate studies. The second study was designed as an exact replication of the first, as a robustness check. Results indicate that while players could recall details of the conversations, synchronous streaming had no impact on feelings of propinquity with, or social demand from, the audiences.
... Early findings showed that extraversion and emotional stability relate to more positive attitudes toward electronic monitoring [12], and more recently researchers have expanded their focus to a wider set of variables. Laird et al. [13 ] found that selfefficacy moderates the effect of monitoring on performance. ...
Article
Many individuals perceive digital monitoring to be an inherently negative practice that invades privacy, but recent research suggests that it has positive effects for workers under certain circumstances. This review expands upon existing digital monitoring frameworks by adopting a psychological perspective to explain individual and contextual variation in monitoring reactions. To do so, we identify person characteristics (e.g. trait reactance, self-efficacy, ethical orientation, goal orientation) and job characteristics (e.g. manual versus nonmanual labor, autonomy, task significance) that moderate workers' reactions and performance outcomes while being digitally monitored. Future research on moderators such as these will remain important as organizations continue to collect big data using digital monitoring.
... Elektronische Leistungsüberwachung kann für Beschäftigte und Unternehmen negative Folgen haben und das Vertrauen in die Führungskraft erheblich beeinträchtigen (Morlok et al. 2016). Sie führt bei schwierigen Aufgaben zu höherem Stress und zu schlechterer Stimmung (Davidson und Henderson 2000) und sie kann die Leistung beeinträchtigen (Laird et al. 2017). ...
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Zusammenfassung In diesem Beitrag fokussieren wir die Merkmale und Anforderungen digitaler Führung und Zusammenarbeit bei komplexen und dynamischen Projektaufgaben, die vermittelt über moderne Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien bearbeitet werden. Anhand des vorliegenden Forschungsstandes gehen wir der Frage nach, inwieweit sich die These stützen lässt, dass Führung bei komplexer digitaler Zusammenarbeit nur gelingen kann, wenn Führungsfunktionen an das Team delegiert werden und personale Führung durch strukturelle Führung ergänzt wird. Trotz vieler uneinheitlicher Befunde zu den Effekten digitaler Führung scheinen die vorliegenden Forschungsergebnisse dafür zu sprechen, dass mehr geteilte Führung in selbstregulierenden Projektteams die Teamleistung fördert.
Article
We analyze workplace monitoring in a principal--agent model with two types of workers who differ in their productivity. The firm decides on the effort level, the wage and the monitoring intensity for both workers. We find that the elasticities of the workers' effort-cost function and the firm's monitoring-cost function affect the firm's monitoring intensity. Our results imply that the firm might monitor the low-productive worker more closely than the high-productive worker.
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We propose that organizations use a new framework of workday design to enhance the creativity of today's chronically overworked professionals. Although insights from creativity research have been integrated into models of work design to increase the stimulants of creativity (e.g., intrinsic motivation), this has not led to work design models that have effectively reduced the obstacles to creativity (e.g., workload pressures). As a consequence, creative output among professionals in high-workload contexts remains disappointing. In response, we offer a framework of work design that focuses on the design of entire workdays rather than the typical focus on designing either specific tasks or very broad job descriptions (e.g., as the job characteristics model in Hackman et al. 1975). Furthermore, we introduce the concept of “mindless” work (i.e., work that is low in both cognitive difficulty and performance pressures) as an integral part of this framework. We suggest that to enhance creativity among chronically overworked professionals, workdays should be designed to alternate between bouts of cognitively challenging and high-pressure work (as suggested in the original model by Hackman et al. 1975), and bouts of mindless work (as defined in this paper). We discuss the implications of our framework for theories of work design and creativity.
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A conceptual framework is described for examining employee reactions to performance monitoring. The framework incorporates attitudinal and motivational effects of performance monitoring on monitored employees and discusses effects of performance monitoring on performance feedback and performance appraisal. The framework is used to organize a review of research literature relevant to employee reactions to electronic and nonelectronic performance monitoring. The article includes specific propositions for additional research and general directions for future research in performance monitoring.
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A laboratory study was conducted to assess effects of electronic performance monitoring on individuals working on computers in an officelike environment. Participants ( N  = 108) worked on a computerized data correction task under 6 experimental conditions that varied the amount of control over performance monitoring and knowledge concerning specific monitoring events. Results confirmed and extended a model proposed by D. B. Greenberger and S. Strasser (1986) to relate personal control, satisfaction, and performance. Participants with the ability to delay or prevent electronic performance monitoring indicated higher feelings of personal control and demonstrated superior task performance. Participants with exact knowledge of the occurrence of monitoring expressed lower feelings of personal control than those from whom specific knowledge of monitoring was hidden. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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The Einstellung (set) effect occurs when the first idea that comes to mind, triggered by familiar features of a problem, prevents a better solution being found. It has been shown to affect both people facing novel problems and experts within their field of expertise. We show that it works by influencing mechanisms that determine what information is attended to. Having found one solution, expert chess players reported that they were looking for a better one. But their eye movements showed that they continued to look at features of the problem related to the solution they had already thought of. The mechanism which allows the first schema activated by familiar aspects of a problem to control the subsequent direction of attention may contribute to a wide range of biases both in everyday and expert thought – from confirmation bias in hypothesis testing to the tendency of scientists to ignore results that do not fit their favoured theories.
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Building on self-determination theory, we theorized about and demonstrated, through 2 multilevel field studies, the pivotal role of harmonious passion in translating organizational autonomy support and individual autonomy orientation into job creativity. Results based on 3-level data from 856 members in 111 teams within 23 work units of a porous metal company (Study 1) and from 525 employees in 98 teams of 18 branches of a large commercial bank (Study 2) revealed 2 major findings. First, organizational autonomy support from a higher organizational level (unit or branch) compensated for the effect of autonomy support from a lower organizational level (team) or individual autonomy orientation on employees' harmonious passion. Second, harmonious passion mediated the interactive effects of unit (branch) autonomy support and team member autonomy orientation, of team autonomy support and team member autonomy orientation, and of unit (branch) autonomy support and team autonomy support on individual creativity. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings in the organizational context.
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Reports a meta-analysis of the effects of the presence of others on human task performance and physiology. In 241 studies involving nearly 24,000 Ss, the presence of others had small effects, accounting for .3% to 3% of the variance in the typical experiment. It is concluded that (a) the presence of others heightens an individual's physiological arousal only if the individual is performing a complex task; (b) the presence of others increases the speed of simple task performance and decreases the speed of complex task performance; (c) the presence of others impairs complex performance accuracy and slightly facilitates simple performance accuracy, although the facilitation is vulnerable to the "file drawer problem" of unreported null results; and (d) social facilitation effects are surprisingly unrelated to the performer's evaluation apprehension. These meta-analytic conclusions are contrasted with conclusions reached by narrative literature reviews, and implications for theories of social facilitation are discussed. A list of the studies analyzed is appended. (51 ref)
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A solution is suggested for an old unresolved social psychological problem.
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This article reviews the origins and development of social facilitation theory beginning with N. Triplett's (1898) early work during the late 1800s. Early studies of the phenomenon focused on individual performance enhancement when others were present. Performance impairments were observed but not explained until R. B. Zajonc's (1965) integration of previous work that provided a coherent explanation for earlier inconsistencies. Beginning with his drive theory, the authors describe various social, physiological, behavioral, and cognitive explanations for social facilitation that have been advanced over the years and discuss their origins in some of the earliest social psychological research. Finally, the authors present their own framework for examining social facilitation phenomena and highlight problems and opportunities for advancing the theory. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Several problems, all solvable by one somewhat complex procedure, are presented in succession. If afterwards a similar task is given which can be solved by a more direct and simple method, will the individual be blinded to this direct possibility ( Einstellung)? If a blinding effect does result, will it be of characteristically different strength in groups that differ in educational level, age, etc.? Moreover, if we introduce means to save the subjects or to rescue them from such blindness, will these means readily work? Will they operate differently in various groups? And what may be the real cause for the blinding effect? How are we to understand this phenomenon? (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Comments on R. Eisenberger and J. Cameron's (see record 1996-06440-007) discussion on the impact of reward on creativity. The authors argue that Eisenberger and Cameron overlooked or failed to adequately explain several demonstrations of lower creativity on rewarded activities as compared with nonrewarded activities. Moreover, the evidence they provided of increased creativity under reward is more informative about relatively simple human behaviors than about actual creative performance. The authors believe that it is erroneous and misleading to conclude, as do Eisenberger and Cameron, that the detrimental effects of reward occur under limited conditions that are easily avoided. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Increases in the sophistication of workplace computerization has provided modern-day managers with superior tools, such as electronic performance monitoring (EPM), with which to supervise their employees. Expanding on studies by Aiello (e. g., Aiello, 1993), the present study aimed to examine EPM in a social facilitation framework, exploring not only the relationship with task performance and stress, but also with an individual's subjective mood state. Thirty-three female and 15 male university students were required to solve a series of anagrams via a purpose-built computer program. Both the difficulty of the anagrams (easy or difficult) and the presence of monitoring (present or absent) were varied for each participant. Results indicated that the visual presence of EPM resulted in an easy task being performed with greater proficiency and a difficult task being performed with less proficiency. When participants were attempting to solve an easy task, the presence of EPM resulted in a participant's mood state becoming significantly more positive; whereas when solving a difficult task, EPM caused a more negative mood state. Similarly, it was found that a higher level of subjective stress was experienced when EPM was present, as opposed to absent. when individuals were performing a difficult task. The implications for the workplace applications produced by this study are discussed.
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Evidence shows that real-effort investments can affect bilateral bargaining outcomes. This paper investigates whether similar investments can inhibit equilibrium convergence of experimental markets. In one treatment, sellers’ relative effort affects the allocation of production costs, but a random productivity shock ensures that the allocation is not necessarily equitable. In another treatment, sellers’ effort increases the buyers’ valuation of a good. We find that effort investments have a short-lived impact on trading behavior when sellers’ effort benefits buyers, but no effect when effort determines cost allocation. Efficiency rates are high and do not differ across treatments.