Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 667–680 | Cite as

Do you get what you pay for? Sales incentives and implications for motivation and changes in turnover intention and work effort

  • Bård KuvaasEmail author
  • Robert Buch
  • Marylène Gagné
  • Anders Dysvik
  • Jacques Forest
Original Paper


This study investigated relations between pay-for-performance incentives designed to vary in instrumentality (annual pay-for-performance, quarterly pay-for-performance, and base pay level) and employee outcomes (self-reported work effort and turnover intention) in a longitudinal study spanning more than 2 years. After controlling for perceived instrumentality, merit pay increase, and the initial values of the dependent variables, the amount of base pay was positively related to work effort and negatively related to turnover intention, where both relationships were mediated by autonomous motivation. The amounts of quarterly and annual pay-for-performance were both positively related to controlled motivation, but were differently related to the dependent variables due to different relations with autonomous motivation.


Pay-for-performance Motivation Work effort Turnover intention Self-determination theory 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

None of the authors has any conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BI Norwegian Business SchoolOsloNorway
  2. 2.Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied SciencesOsloNorway
  3. 3.The University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Organization and Human ResourceESG-UQAMStation Centre-ville, MontrealCanada

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