The Effects of a Combined Goal Setting, Feedback and Incentive Intervention on Job Performance in a Manufacturing Environment

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Baked anodes are used in finished aluminum production. Employees of a large multinational aluminum smelter were responsible for the production of more than 3500 baked anodes per week. During a 74 week long baseline (A) condition, production of unusable anodes exceeded 300 per week or 8.6 percent of their nominal 3500 anode production requirement. A problem analysis suggested that this high rate of defective anodes might have been due to weak antecedents, inefficient work procedures and weak performance contingencies. An intervention package that included a combination of goal setting, performance feedback, and tangible rewards was designed to strengthen antecedents and consequences of job performance. A performance feedback system was introduced with and remained constant across the three types of performance contingent rewards and three successively higher goal levels. The three reward and goal combinations were introduced to “strengthen” antecedents and performance contingencies within an A-B1-B2-B3-A with reversal to baseline conditions design. Anode reject rates were lower (better performance) during the three intervention phases compared to both the pre- and post-intervention baseline phase data. A dramatic performance improvement (lowered rate of rejects) was observed during the B3 phase that included the highest performance goal. These data demonstrate that a treatment combination of specific goal setting, feedback and tangible rewards can “strengthen” antecedents and performance contingencies resulting in improved objective performance in a manufacturing environment.


This article was originally published in Journal of Organizational Behavior Management. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journal of Organizational Behavior Management