Rewarding Those Hardly Working More Than Those Working Hard: How Misallocating Equitable Team-Based Rewards in Interdependent Tasks Can Create a Barrier to Retaining Higher-Performing Team Members



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This study examined one possible barrier to the effectiveness of equitable team-based rewards (i.e. rewards allocated according to each team member’s individual contribution) that can especially occur with interdependent tasks, where it may be difficult to measure individual contributions: reward misallocation, such that higher performers are rewarded less than lower performers. The impact of three individual differences as moderators— equity sensitivity, exchange ideology, and agreeableness—was also examined. Results from a sample of 122 undergraduate students, each paired with a confederate teammate (who was always the lower performer), indicated that misallocation did not negatively impact individual performance or helping behaviors on a subsequent task. Misallocation, did however, reduce the intention to continue working with the teammate on future tasks. Lastly, moderating effects of the individual differences were not found.