How the timing of performance feedback impacts incentive-based individual performance
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Performance feedback plays an important role in management accounting, as it is integral to performance measurement and evaluation. The timing of performance feedback is a critical characteristic of accounting information systems and is often a choice variable for managers and management accountants. In this dissertation, I examine the relation between the timing of outcome-based performance feedback and individual performance. I find that immediate outcome-based performance feedback, while benefiting current performance, can limit individuals’ propensity to seek learning opportunities, reducing future performance. Further, I find that feedback given after intermediate delays benefits future performance with a small cost to current performance. Lastly, feedback given after too long of a delay not only limits current performance, but also limits future performance due to the effects of information overload. Overall, I find support for an inverted-U relation between the timing of performance feedback and future performance. In a two-period setting in which the timing of outcome-based performance feedback is manipulated in the first period and feedback is unavailable in the second period, I find that participants given intermediate feedback perform significantly better in the second period than those given feedback either after no delay or after a long delay. I also investigate the processes by which performance is affected by the timing of performance feedback. These results contribute to a better understanding of the effect of performance feedback timing in complex task environments and provide insight into how delays in performance feedback can benefit or harm future performance.