How publication command systems affect individual behavior
The ability to design and implement performance management systems that motivate employees to high performance has become pivotal for many public leaders. Many public organizations use command systems which are based on the threat of sanctions, but our knowledge on the effects of such systems is very limited, because studies have focused on rewards instead. This article investigates how publication command systems (and especially the perception of them) affect individual researchers’ productivity. The typical publication command system consists of rules concerning the minimum number of journal articles required from each researcher and procedures for monitoring and sanctioning. Principal Agent Theory expects command systems to induce agents to work harder and perform better, whereas motivation crowding theory claims that the agents’ perception of the command system is the important factor. If employees see the command system as supportive, they are expected to perform better, but the opposite is expected if the command system is seen as a pure control device. The expectation is confirmed in this study, which builds on register and survey panel data from 101 individual researchers for ten years (2000-2009) combined with 19 semi-structured interviews. Although research institutions are a specialized type of public organization, the results imply that public leaders should take their employees' perception of command systems very seriously.
Review of Public Personnel Administration, 2014, Vol 32, Issue 2, p. 84-107