The interactive effect of organizational identification and reward type on reward valuation

Khim Kelly, Weiming Liu, Adam Presslee

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review


Recent management trends highlight two techniques firms use to motivate employee effort: (1) fostering employees' organizational identification (OI) and (2) offering employees tangible rewards such as gift cards instead of cash rewards. We use three studies to examine how OI affects employees' reward valuation and how such effects differ depending on the reward type. Study 1 is an experiment, demonstrating that increasing OI increases the emphasis participants place on a reward's symbolic value, which then increases the total value of the reward—to a larger extent when the reward is tangible than when it is cash. Study 2 is an experiment, providing evidence that Study 1 results are robust to using a tangible reward that is not socially consumed, that is selected either by the firm or by the employee, and that is either a good or poor fit with the employee's personal preference. Finally, Study 3 is a survey, asking respondents about actual rewards they received from their current employer and capturing their actual OI with their current employer. Results in Study 3 are inferentially similar to those in Study 1 and Study 2, albeit stronger for rewards of smaller monetary value. Collectively, these results highlight the particular benefit of strong OI on how employees value tangible rewards relative to cash rewards, which should be of interest to incentive system designers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1733-1759
Number of pages27
JournalContemporary Accounting Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep. 2023


  • cash reward
  • organizational identification
  • symbolic value
  • tangible reward


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