Department of Management


Date of this Version



Published in Personnel Psychology 56 (2003), pp 155–194.

doi 10.1111/j.1744-6570.2003.tb00147.x


Copyright © 2003 Personnel Psychology, Inc. Published by John Wiley. Used by permission.


In this study, we provide the conceptual background, meta-analyze available behavioral management studies (N = 72) in organizational settings, and examine whether combined reinforcement effects on task performance are additive (sum of individual effects), redundant (combined effects are less than the additive effects), or synergistic (combined effects are greater than the sum of the individual effects). We found a significant overall average effect size of (d.) = .47 (16% improvement in performance; 63% probability of success), and a significant within-group heterogeneity of effect sizes. To account for this variation, we conducted a theory-driven moderator analysis, which indicated that money, feedback, and social recognition each had a significant impact on task performance. However, when these 3 reinforcers were used in combination, they produced the strongest (synergistic) effect on task performance. Based on our findings, we offer directions for future research, and suggestions for effective application of behavioral management at work.