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Performance effects of setting a high reference point for peer-performance comparison

Eyring, Henry and Narayanan, V.G. (2018) Performance effects of setting a high reference point for peer-performance comparison. Journal of Accounting Research, 56 (2). 581 - 615. ISSN 0021-8456

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1475-679X.12199


We conduct a field experiment, based on a registered report accepted by the Journal of Accounting Research, to test performance effects of setting a high reference point for peer-performance comparison. Relative to providing the median as a reference point for online students to compare themselves to, providing the top quartile: damps performance for those below the median; boosts performance for those between the median and top quartile; and, in the case of outcome but not process comparison, boosts performance for those above the top quartile. We do not find that either reference point yields a greater average performance effect. However, providing the more effective reference point in each partition of initial performance yields a 40% greater performance effect than providing either reference point uniformly. Students access the online courses intermittently over the span of a year. Our effects derive from small portions of our treatment groups—5% in the case of process comparison and 26% in the case of outcome comparison—who accessed treatment and who were, on average, more active leading up to and during our intervention

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 University of Chicago on behalf of the Accounting Research Center
Divisions: Accounting
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
University Structure > Language Centre
JEL classification: C - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods > C9 - Design of Experiments > C93 - Field Experiments
D - Microeconomics > D9 - Intertemporal Choice and Growth > D91 - Intertemporal Consumer Choice; Life Cycle Models and Saving
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I2 - Education > I21 - Analysis of Education
M - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting > M4 - Accounting and Auditing > M41 - Accounting
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2018 13:13
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2024 23:33

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