Incentive Payments

Description Incentive payments are essentially bribes to employees to do their jobs well. Individuals facing an incentive gained or lost at the end of an assessment period will often put in that extra effort to ensure they get their bonus. Often the bonus has been spent (mentally) by the employee long before it is received. The advantage is that it is often difficult to foresee obstacles in a Goal-Oriented Evaluation 12-18 months in advance, and the bonus acts as a buffer or recompense for any inaccuracy in the goals.

Incentive payments drive mechanical behaviors+, even if they are intended to drive creative behaviors. Individuals become very creative in how they define creativity. No matter how you define the incentives, researchers will find a creative way to game the program.

A bigger issue is that incentive payments align the incentives in the wrong direction. Researchers should not be doing research for the sake of money. They should be doing research for the sake of being able to do even cooler research. The incentives should reinforce the passion of researchers for the work, and not focus their attentions elsewhere, as is the case with monetary incentives. How many times do we have to read about individuals being very excited about their outside interests, only to have that excitement dulled by having the activity turned into 'a job'?

Appropriate Uses Everyone has a mortgage and everyone can use some extra cash. Align cash payments with the concrete commercial success of the R&D endeavor, and not with any activity or interim results.


Further Reading