Driven By Social Comparisons: How Feedback About Coworkers? Effort Influences Individual Productivity

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Drawing on theoretical insights from research on social comparison processes, this paper explores how managers can use performance feedback to sustain employees' motivation and performance in organizations. Using a field experiment at a Japanese bank, the authors investigate the effects of valence (positive versus negative), type (direct versus indirect), and timing of feedback (one-shot versus persistent) on employee productivity. The results show that direct negative feedback leads to improvements in employees' performance, while direct positive feedback does not significantly impact performance.