Recognizing the Best: The Productive and Counterproductive Effects of Relative Performance Recognition

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I use a laboratory experiment to examine the productive and counterproductive effects of providing employees nonpecuniary recognition based on measures of relative performance. I find that, on average, recognition programs increase both productive efforts (those intended to increase one's own performance) and counterproductive efforts (those intended to decrease peer performance) in a setting where it is salient to employees that they can exert both productive and counterproductive efforts. Interestingly, I also find that these effects are moderated by the Dark Triad of personalities, a group of three personality traits. My study reveals that recognition programs mainly lead individuals who score lower on the Dark Triad to increase counterproductive efforts and those who score higher on the Dark Triad to increase productive efforts. These results contribute to the literature on relative performance information by demonstrating that recognition programs can have both productive and counterproductive effects. However, whether these programs produce mainly a productive or counterproductive effect depends on important personality characteristics of the employees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)966-990
Number of pages25
JournalContemporary Accounting Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


Dive into the research topics of 'Recognizing the Best: The Productive and Counterproductive Effects of Relative Performance Recognition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this