Rewards in general do not enhance, and often impede, performance on many different kinds of tasks, especially those that require creativity.
deliberate restriction of output, hidden jigs and fixtures, hidden production, fudged records . . . antagonism toward those who administer the plan, cynicism with respect to management’s integrity and fairness, indifference to the importance of collaboration with other parts of the organization (except for collusive efforts to defeat the incentive system)
Consider the countries typically cited as competitors of the United States. Japan and Germany, to take two of the most successful, rarely use incentives or other behaviorist tactics to induce people to do a better job.
Perhaps what they are telling us is that better performance does not follow from higher pay. In other words, the very idea of trying to reward quality may be a fool’s errand.
Locke also found that workers tended to choose easier tasks as the payment for success increased, a finding consistent with the argument that rewards discourage risk-taking.
One interesting bit of research took advantage of an unusual occurrence in a real workplace: the sudden elimination of an incentive system that had long been in effect for a group of welders.