5 years ago

The Goldilocks contract: The synergistic benefits of combining structure and autonomy for persistence, creativity, and cooperation.

Galinsky AD, Chou EY, Murnighan JK, Halevy N
Contracts are commonly used to regulate a wide range of interactions and relationships. Yet relying on contracts as a mechanism of control often comes at a cost to motivation. Integrating theoretical perspectives from psychology, economics, and organizational theory, we explore this control-motivation dilemma inherent in contracts and present the Contract-Autonomy-Motivation-Performance-Structure (CAMPS) model, which highlights the synergistic benefits of combining structure and autonomy. The model proposes that subtle reductions in the specificity of a contract's language can boost autonomy, which increases intrinsic motivation and improves a range of desirable behaviors. Nine field and laboratory experiments found that less specific contracts increased task persistence, creativity, and cooperation, both immediately and longitudinally, because they boosted autonomy and intrinsic motivation. These positive effects, however, only occurred when contracts provided sufficient structure. Furthermore, the effects were limited to control-oriented clauses (i.e., legal clauses), and did not extend to coordination-oriented clauses (i.e., technical clauses). That is, there were synergistic benefits when a contract served as a scaffold that combined structure with general clauses. Overall, the current model and experiments identify a low-cost solution to the common problem of regulating social relationships: finding the right amount of contract specificity promotes desirable outcomes, including behaviors that are notoriously difficult to contract. The CAMPS model and the current set of empirical findings explain why, when, and how contracts can be used as an effective motivational tool. (PsycINFO Database Record

Publisher URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28447836

DOI: PubMed:28447836

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.