The role of target difficulty and career tournaments in retaining creative R&D employees

Isabella Grabner, Mischa Seiter, Markus Wabnegg, Henning Wirth

Publikation: Wissenschaftliche FachzeitschriftOriginalbeitrag in FachzeitschriftBegutachtung


We explore the turnover intentions of creative R&D employees and the role of performance management practices in shaping these considerations. Since the success of a firm's R&D efforts hinges on the innovative ideas of its employees, it is crucial to retain particularly creative individuals. At the same time, however, we argue that this is especially difficult because both the higher outside options of creative employees and their specific individual characteristics make them, on average, more likely to leave their company. Most importantly, we suggest that two widely studied performance management design choices (target difficulty and career tournaments) typically used to motivate effort may influence the loss of creative talent. Using survey data from our unique access to R&D employees of a large manufacturing firm and a complementary experiment among business students, we find evidence that creative employees are, on average, more likely to leave their firm. Consistent with creative employees possessing a stronger learning orientation, we also predict and find that this tendency to leave is mitigated by target difficulty (as difficult targets speak to creative individuals’ learning orientation) and exacerbated by the intensity of career tournaments (as they reduce team cohesion and, ultimately, undermine learning opportunities).
FachzeitschriftContemporary Accounting Research
PublikationsstatusElektronische Veröffentlichung vor Drucklegung - 15 Jan. 2024

Österreichische Systematik der Wissenschaftszweige (ÖFOS)

  • 502033 Rechnungswesen