Performance-Based Incentives Relative to Organizational Objectives in the Unionized Railroad Industry
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Researchers have reported a direct correlation between motivation and extrinsic incentives to increase performance in the workplace. Extrinsic motivators such as compensation, promotion opportunities, and professional development entice employees to exceed their work expectations for these opportunities. Employing three theoretical frameworks including job characteristics theory, Vroom’s (1964) expectancy theory, and Herzberg’s (1959) motivation-hygiene theory, the perceptions of agreement and nonagreement were examined in this qualitative study. The purpose of this study was to explore the ways in which unionized employees are incentivized to perform in relation to achieving organizational objectives. Class I railroad employees were interviewed to determine if performance-based incentives would increase motivation in the workplace. Ethnography was used in this research as it is imperative to observe the behaviors, beliefs, and patterns of railroad employees in their specific work culture to understand the current and historical behavioral patterns that drive performance and the motivating factors that motivate their actions. In-person and phone interviews with unionized and managerial employees were used to collect data, which was transcribed for analysis through convenience sampling. The interview responses were transcribed using NVivo to identify trends in specific words, phrases, sentiments, and expressions and were reported in narration and comparative tables. Interviews took place in the employee’s workplace to allow the unbiased collection of data in the unionized culture. Recommendations for practical application include how management can incorporate non-monetary incentives to encourage performance relative to organizational objectives and foster a positive work environment. A better understanding of unionized employee perceptions of performance-based compensation can facilitate future research with different classes of railroads or other unionized industries to incorporate performance incentives in order to achieve organizational goals.