Team-based reward allocation structures and the helping behaviors of outcome-interdependent team members

Peter A. Bamberger, Racheli Levi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of two key team-based pay characteristics - namely reward allocation procedures (i.e. reward based on norms of equity, equality or some combination of the two) and incentive intensity - on both the amount and type of help given to one another among members of outcome-interdependent teams. Design/methodology/approach - A total of 180 undergraduate students participate in a laboratory simulation with a 2 × 3 experimental design. Servicing virtual "clients," participants receive pre-scripted requests for assistance from anonymous teammates. ANOVA and hierarchical regression analyses are used to test the hypotheses. Findings - Relative to equity-oriented group-based pay structures, equality-oriented pay structures are found to be associated with both significantly more help giving in general and more of the type of help likely to enhance group-level competencies (i.e. autonomous help). Incentive intensity strengthens the effects of reward allocation on the amount (but not the type) of help giving. Research limitations/implications - While the short time frame of the simulation poses a significant threat to external validity, the findings suggest that team-based compensation practices may provide organizational leaders with an important tool by which to shape critical, helping-related team processes, with potentially important implications for both team learning and performance. Practical implications - Managers interested in promoting capacity-building and helping among team members should avoid allocating team rewards strictly on the basis of the individual contribution. Originality/value - This paper provides the first empirical findings regarding how alternative modes of team-based reward distribution may influence key group processes among members of outcome interdependent teams.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-327
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Managerial Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Incentives (psychology)
  • Pay
  • Performance related pay
  • Team working


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