Pay-for-performance and interpersonal deviance: Competitiveness as the match that lights the fire

Daniel Gläser*, Suzanne van Gils, Niels Van Quaquebeke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Many organizations use pay-for-performance (PfP) programs in order to fuel employee motivation and performance. In the present article, we argue that PfP may also increase employees' interpersonal deviance (i.e., active harming behavior toward coworkers) because it might induce social comparison and competition. In order to uncover the underlying process, we further argue that this effect should be particularly pronounced for employees who are high in individual competitiveness, that is, employees who have a strong desire for interpersonal comparison and aspire to be better than others. A cross-sectional field study (N = 250) and two experiments (N = 92; N = 192) provide support for our interaction hypothesis. We discuss the theoretical implications regarding PfP and competitiveness, and offer suggestions concerning the practical implementation of PfP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-90
JournalJournal of Personnel psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • pay for performance
  • competitiveness
  • competition
  • social comparison
  • interpersonal deviance

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