22 Jun 2011  Sharpening Your Skills

Motivation

Can employers motivate employees to work more creatively, ethically, or productively? Or does that power reside solely within the individual? Recent research at Harvard Business School suggests workers can be motivated by their environment.

 

Questions to be Answered

  • What's the best bonus program to boost sales productivity?
  • Can companies inspire heroism in employees?
  • Can employers promote moral behavior?
  • Does money lead to creativity?

What's the best bonus program to boost sales productivity?

Do Bonuses Enhance Sales Productivity? A Dynamic Structural Analysis of Bonus-Based Compensation Plans

Companies generally pay their sales staff with some combination of salary, commissions, and bonuses for meeting quotas—with sales force costs averaging about 10 percent of sales revenue in the United States. This paper aims to gain insight into the most effective way to design a compensation plan, concentrating on whether bonuses boost sales productivity and whether they should be awarded quarterly or annually. Research, focusing on the sales force of a large office supply company, was conducted by Harvard Business School professor Thomas Steenburgh and Doug J. Chung and K. Sudhir of the Yale School of Management.

Can companies inspire heroism in employees?

HBS Cases: Terror at the Taj

Under terrorist attack, employees of the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower bravely stayed at their posts to help guests. A recent multimedia case by professor Rohit Deshpandé looks at the hotel's customer-centered culture and value system.

Can employers promote moral behavior?

The Importance of 'Don't' in Inducing Ethical Employee Behavior

Professors Francesca Gino and Joshua D. Margolis look at two ways that companies can encourage ethical behavior: the promotion of good deeds or the prevention of bad deeds. It turns out that employees tend to act more ethically when focused on what not to do. That can be problematic in firms where success is commonly framed in terms of advancement of positive outcomes rather than prevention of bad ones.

Does money lead to creativity?

Inducement Prizes and Innovation

Throughout recent history, many foundations have tried to induce innovation through competition, offering massive cash prizes to inventors who meet the challenge of creating world-changing inventions. One example: The X Prize. The problem is that inventors cannot win these competitions if they cannot come up with funding to realize their inventions, and research and development costs often exceed the amount of the cash prize. So, does the incentive of an eventual prize really induce innovation? In this paper, Liam Brunt, Josh Lerner, and Tom Nicholas look to answer that question, using a data set of prizes awarded by the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) between 1839 and 1939.