Perverse Effects of Other-Referenced Performance Goals in an Information Exchange Context

Journal of Business Ethics 106 (4):401-414 (2012)
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Abstract

We argue and demonstrate that an emphasis on outperforming others may lead to perverse effects. Four studies show that assigning other-referenced performance goals, relative to self-referenced mastery goals, may lead to more interpersonally harmful behavior in an information exchange context. Results of Study 1 indicate that assigned performance goals lead to stronger thwarting behavior and less accurate information giving to an exchange partner than assigned mastery goals. Similarly, in Study 2 performance goal individuals more subtly deceived highly competent opponents relative to lowly competent opponents, who received more blatant treatment. Finally, Studies 3 and 4 show in methodologically complementary ways that tactical deception considerations may account for the interpersonally harmful behavior of performance goal individuals.

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