Department of Management


Date of this Version



Published in Leadership & Organization Development Journal 29:5 (2008), pp. 427-443. doi: 10.1108/01437730810887030


Copyright © 2008 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Used by permission.


Purpose – The purpose of this study is to examine whether the use of money, social recognition, and feedback have a similar impact on employee performance in the context of a modern Korean broadband internet service firm.

Design/methodology/approach – The study design was a quasi-field experiment (with control group). First, the leaders of this Korean firm were trained in behavioral performance management. Following the steps of organisational behavior modification (O.B. Mod.) they identified, measured, and analyzed critical performance behaviors and then intervened with the following reward incentives: money (n = 38), social recognition and caring attention (n = 41), and objective feedback only (n = 31). The main dependent variable was overall performance, and this was also broken down into quantity and quality dimensions.

Findings – As hypothesized, money and social recognition had a significant impact on performance outcomes, but feedback did not result in as strong a result. When compared to the control group (n = 23), all three reward incentives showed significantly more improvement of overall performance. These findings also indicated, as hypothesized, that the impact of this behavioral management approach on Korean employees did not appear as robust as previous meta-analytic research based on samples of US employees. Finally, although in the predicted direction, the hypothesis that social recognition would have a relatively stronger impact than money and feedback in this context was not statistically supported.

Research limitations/implications – The major limitation concerns generalizability of the findings. However, the experimental design provides support for internal validity.

Practical implications – The study results have practical implications for the value of behavioral performance management, but also that cultural contingencies should also be considered for successful application.

Originality/value – This study contributes preliminary evidence for O.B. Mod to have applicability across cultures.