Motivating and Steering With Comparative Data

Robert D. Behn


Several managerial strategies — particularly goal setting combined with performance feedback — can be very effective in improving an organization’s performance at outputfocused tasks. But can such strategies be adapted to achieve societal outcomes that are less operational and definable, more ambiguous and ambitious, perhaps more political? Can they be adapted to help steer social integration by, for example, enhancing social justice and strengthening citizenship? Recognizing how different kinds of targets, different kinds of feedback, and different kinds of reward structures affect team and individual motivation can help public officials design not only better strategies for directly producing output results, but also better strategies for indirectly fostering broader outcome purposes of, for example, social integration.

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