Motivation in Accounting Decisions: The Effects of Rewards and Environment on Decision Performance and Knowledge Acquisition

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Virginia Tech

The present study investigated the effects of reward structure and environmental conditions (i.e., context) on integrated motivation for an accounting task using 101 undergraduate accounting students. A computer-simulated task in which students were asked to estimate allowance for doubtful accounts was used to create and manipulate reward structure (i.e., performance-contingent vs. task-contingent) and context (i.e., self-determined vs. controlled). It was hypothesized that a self-determined context would create greater motivation than a controlled context when motivation was measured by response intensity, response persistence, integrated response intensity, and integrated response persistence. An ordinal interaction was also hypothesized such that in a self-determined context, performance-contingent rewards would create more motivation than task-contingent rewards, and in a controlled context, performance-contingent rewards would create less motivation than task-contingent rewards.

Results indicated that response intensity, as measured by time on task, did not support the hypothesized main effect or the ordinal interaction; however, when self-reported effort was used as a measure of response intensity, support for both hypotheses was found. Similarly, when response persistence was measured by time on task, support for the hypotheses was not found; however, when number of problems worked during the free choice period was used to assess response persistence, hypothesized effects were supported. For integrated response intensity and persistence, support for the hypotheses was not found.

motivation, intrinsic, extrinsic, reward, context