Pay, Performance, and Participation

Barry Gerhart, Cornell University
George T. Milkovich, Cornell University
Brian Murray, Cornell University


Our chapter identifies key dimensions on which organizations make employee compensation decisions and examines the emerging research evidence on the consequences of such decisions for attitudes, behaviors, and organization performance. We provide some general suggestions that may prove helpful in future research. First, there is increased recognition that pay decisions take place in the context of implicit or explicit contracts between employees and specific organizations. As a result, we encourage researchers to continue to give greater attention to the role of organization differences in compensation. Second, because pay is multidimensional, attention should not be restricted to organization differences in pay level. Organization differences in benefits, structure, and means of recognizing individual employees contributions also warrant attention. As an example of how the focus can be expanded, we provide new empirical evidence on organization differences in the market sensitivity of pay structures. Third, we note that the success of pay programs depends not only on decisions about pay per se, but also the process used in making communicating, and administering such decisions. More broadly, the influence of contextual factors, such as the nature of other employee relations practices (e.g., staffmg, development, employment security), needs to be considered to a greater extent in compensation research. In addition to these broad suggestions, we provide specific ideas on future research directions throughout the chapter.