Workplace goals and output quality: evidence from time-constrained recruiting goals in the U.S. Navy
Cunha, Jesse M.
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This paper examines how workplace goals affect the quality of worker output. The context is the recruiting command of the U.S. Navy, one of the largest recruiting organizations in the world with approximately 4,000 recruiters recruiting 36,000 recruits per year. Navy recruiting stations and recruiters are assigned monthly goals for the quantity of new recruits, which may set a perverse incentive to sacrifice quality, especially towards the end of the month when an unfulfilled quantity goal looms large. Using data on the universe of Navy recruits from FY1998 to 2010, we find significant reductions in the quality of recruits towards the end of the contracting month, both in terms of pre-existing quality of recruits and in medium-term outcomes that reflect the quality of the job match. These effects are present even in the presence of quality goals the Navy has implemented to ensure a minimum quality of the fleet.
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