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IIMS Journal of Management Science
Year : 2020, Volume : 11, Issue : 1
First page : ( 35) Last page : ( 44)
Print ISSN : 0976-030X. Online ISSN : 0976-173X.
Article DOI : 10.5958/0976-173X.2020.00003.2

Do Anchors Create Inefficient Systems? Motivating Optimal Outcomes through Strategic Supervision and Control—A Behavioural Game Theory Experiment

Roy Debarshi

Researcher and Consultant on Organisational Behaviour. He can be reached at roy.debarshi@gmail.com

JEL Classification: C7, C79, M1, M5

Online published on 18 May, 2020.


Strict supervision and preset targets are common control mechanisms to optimise performance in workplace situations. However, it is being realised that these mechanism designs do not always produce the desired effects on human behaviour. This study explores the mechanisms of supervision and targets through an experiment conducted among 46 high school students to study whether targets and supervision work in school situations. The experiment consisted of students being given the task of writing an essay of their choice within a time limit of 45 minutes. They were to be appraised on the number of ages they wrote. This experiment was repeated four times, with the first being conducted without supervision and targets of minimum specified pages; this round acted as the control. The experiment was then repeated with a supervisor and targets of a minimum number of pages. The rules specified that the students who wrote more than the minimum number of pages would be given a prize, and those who would write less than the minimum number of pages would be made to repeat the exercise. The four rounds of the experiment were conducted in two modules. In the second module of the experiment, it was also specified that all students who wrote gibberish or were frivolous would be reported to the principal. The results of the experiment were tabulated, and a mathematical model based on game theory was designed to explain the results.



Behavioural game theory, Supervision, Performance targets, Anchors.


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