Mitigating the Demotivating Effects of Frequent Unfavorable Feedback about Goal Progress

Vic Anand, Alan Webb, Chris Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Performance goals are used pervasively by organizations to motivate individual effort, and feedback about goal progress is often available on a highly frequent basis. While feedback can be beneficial, there is evidence that frequent unfavorable feedback can be demotivating. We use expectancy theory to predict that compared to infrequent feedback, frequent unfavorable feedback about goal progress will reduce effort by negatively impacting individuals’ expectancy of goal attainment. We also predict that these negative effects will be mitigated when accompanied by a goal attainability reminder that bolsters the expectancy of goal attainment. Results from two experiments support both predictions and also show that a goal attainability reminder does not reduce the effort when early frequent feedback is favorable. These findings have practical implications as we demonstrate that a simple and readily implementable reminder about the attainability of assigned goals can mitigate the negative motivational effects of frequent unfavorable performance feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-32
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Management Accounting Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • effort
  • expectancy
  • feedback frequency
  • goals
  • performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Accounting


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