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Open Source The Almighty Buck News

Open Source vs. Wall Street Bonuses 172

Posted by kdawson
from the can't-buy-me-whuffie dept.
tcd004 sends in a piece from PBS NewsHour on money and what actually motivates people. "What best motivates the workforce? More money? Fame? New studies reveal that beyond a certain threshold, large financial rewards can actually become a drag on performance in the workplace. Reporter Paul Solman compares million-dollar Wall Street bonuses to the rewards earned by the labor force behind the open source community."
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Open Source vs. Wall Street Bonuses

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  • by ender06 (913978) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @05:17AM (#32062442)
    Who would've imagined that knowing you'd get a huge bonus anyway would make you work less/not as hard? The rest of us in the real world already know this.
    • by Jurily (900488)

      Motivating developers: "We'll ship this time."

      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        Motivation is fed by a combination of pressure, reward and recognition.

        A bonus shall only be provided if the result has exceeded expectations and the company as a whole has had a positive revenue. Any other reason for a bonus is insufficient.

        But in order to ship something in time you must also make sure that there are sufficient time available to complete the task. However the startup process for a project may sometimes eat up more than half of the available time that a project is expected to be completed i

    • by Bert64 (520050) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Sunday May 02, 2010 @05:36AM (#32062496) Homepage

      However, bonus schemes in many cases are inherently flawed and encourage people to cut corners or do their job in a known inefficient way in order to maximize the bonus.

      Look at traffic wardens who are supposed to be enforcing parking regulations, but are rewarded based on the number of tickets issued. So now it becomes in their interest to maximize the amount of regulation breaking so they can hand out tickets.
      Some police forces are rewarded based on number of arrests, so its in their interest to make no effort to prevent crime, wait for crimes to be committed and then arrest all the petty criminals who are a much easier target than serious or organized criminals.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, 2010 @05:59AM (#32062574)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by davmoo (63521)

        Another good example is the bonuses for keeping labor costs down at many stores and restaurants. If the manager keeps labor costs under a certain figure, he gets a bonus, even if the business ends up understaffed. This is why most businesses, especially chain restaurants, seem to be perpetually understaffed.

        • That works until it gets so bad that people stop going there. No matter how low your labor costs are, you won't make a profit with zero customers.

          (Exceptions: SCO, the music/movie industry.)

      • by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @08:28AM (#32063026) Homepage

        "However, bonus schemes in many cases are inherently flawed and encourage people to cut corners or do their job in a known inefficient way in order to maximize the bonus."

        One way around that would be to hold the bonuses in escrow for two years, to be release only on the condition that the company performs at least satisfactorily during that time. The money could be invested in two twelve-month certificates or funds and repossessed at the end of either one.

        What to do with the repossessed bonuses is another question because if done wrong it provides further incentive to sabotage or under perform. Tricks like donating the bonus to charity won't work because they would only end up at a charity presided over by the loser or a family member or, worse, end up channeled into a PAC [opensecrets.org] like the Gates' Foundation.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        "Look at traffic wardens who are supposed to be enforcing parking regulations, but are rewarded based on the number of tickets issued. So now it becomes in their interest to maximize the amount of regulation breaking so they can hand out tickets."

        Okay... how does a meter maid maximize the amount of illegal parking? Pull down the signs? Here there's a law that says if the sign isn't legible the ticket is invalid. And if the maid ever got caught....

    • by roman_mir (125474) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @05:38AM (#32062508) Homepage Journal

      Well, I did the sacrilegious thing, I read TFA :( Sorry.

      So that's not what the thesis is. The thesis is that by offering to receive a very large reward as opposed to offering to receive a small reward without paying attention to the time, the people were driven to enter this mode of behavior, where they stopped thinking creatively and tried to solve the problem by brute force, without any regard the real question at hand. People who were offered large reward if they solved the problem quicker, actually did worse (took more time and did not come up with the optimal solution) on average than those, who were offered a small reward and where time did not matter (they saved about a third of time it looks like and came up with the optimal solution that corresponded to the actual requirements correctly.)

      So what TFA is saying is that offering a lot of money quickly prevents people from actually doing a good job quickly and that they take on average more time then to do a worse job. It's like TFA is saying that people enter some sort of a panic mode and cannot think straight because of the money involved.

      • by Rhaban (987410) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @05:59AM (#32062572)

        As a developer, I see everyday that when someone is asked to do something with a tight deadline, it usually takes more time than if there's no deadline or a large one.

        When someone thinks there's no time to perform a task, they try to cut on "useless" parts like planning, modeling... and they try to begin "productive" work right away.

        The result is often that a lot of work has to be redone, and the global task ends up taking more time.

      • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @06:00AM (#32062578) Journal
        I can understand the "panic mode" thinking when being offered a reward to solve a puzzle in 5 minutes. But does that really affect your work when you are being offered a large bonus at the end of the year? The bonus probably influences your decisions, as the article shows with the example of Wall Street bonuses, but it does so for very different reasons.

        All of that is already well known though. Money is a good incentive when there is a direct and immediate relation between your paycheck and your output: if you get paid $1 per Widget X made, you are well motivated to work a little faster, take shorter breaks, and make a couple extra widgets at the end of the workday. But when there is no direct relation between pay and performance, money turns into what is known as a "hygiene factor": the reward needs to be adequate up to a certain point or it will work as a demotivator, but anything past that point will work as motivator only very briefly.
        • by vertinox (846076)

          But does that really affect your work when you are being offered a large bonus at the end of the year?

          Wall Street bonuses are based on quarterly earnings, not yearly performance.

          If you do crappy 3 of the 4 quarters, the shareholders won't wait for the 4th.

          Secondly, I have never worked for a company who did year end bonuses... It was always quarterly or trimester. I suppose the turn over rate was bad enough as well as the threat of downsizing/layoffs, that it was assumed you might not be there in a year so t

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jadavis (473492)

          Money is a good incentive when there is a direct and immediate relation between your paycheck and your output

          I think this misses the point. Money (and other incentives) work well to encourage inputs. For those tasks where there is a direct connection between inputs and outputs, money can improve outputs (like with your widget example). However, if the connection between inputs and outputs is looser, such as a task that requires creativity rather than brute force, incentives generally don't work as well.

      • That's why you only get 5 mod points at a time on /.. To avoid the panic mode of too much reward.

        • by roman_mir (125474)

          Oh Your God, I can sell Moderation Points for Money? Where where, how to who?

          Mod Points, Mod Points, Fresh out of the /. bakery! Get them here, get them now! Now with only 4 easy payments of 19.99!!!!

          Seriously though, I think the time pressure is worse than the money pressure. Also take into account that money pressure is relative: if you are making $100/hour, then $120 is not such an outrageous amount for you to panic, but if you are offered $1000/hour after only making $100/hour, that's a different st

      • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Sunday May 02, 2010 @07:03AM (#32062756)

        That seems vaguely reasonable to me, based on my experience getting people to do things. Some of the best stuff I've gotten from other people has been stuff that I've gotten on a totally "I'll do it when I get to it" basis. You get a lot of un-accounted-for work in those cases, because people aren't "really" working for you, but are thinking about your problem in the shower, or procrastinating from their "real" work by reading Google Scholar entries related to your problem, etc. Eventually, you might get back something pretty good. (Not always, of course; so you could also say it has a higher variance.)

      • by h00manist (800926)
        Reward people with more time. Most people spend inordinate amounts of time solving simple, repetitive tasks. Paying bills, cleaning house, washing clothes, buying supplies, transportation, finding entertainment, fixing things, answering phones. Paying a specialized 'time savers crew' might be much cheaper than a team of programmers doing all this stuff individually, plus frequently they are all awfully messy with it. Get a coding party or campout where people can spend time at to get away and get work don
      • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

        If you give people a monetary reward, their focus shifts so that the outcome is money and the solution is a byproduct. This short-circuits mental processing because the output is supposed to be a solution, and the money a byproduct dependent on the solution. Essentially what you said about panic mode only more of an explanation - a theory if you will.

        The experiment is slightly disingenuous because it uses time as a limiting factor. So the outcome is not just a solution, it's a timely solution. The only

    • Bonuses are to KEEP employees, especially developers, not to motivate them.
      See for example Activision vs Infinity Ward, where the plan was to pay less bonus so employees would feel like leaving for the new formed company.
      Interesting I was reading "Drive" from Daniel Pink, which talks exactly about it. One of the examples was the SOMA experiment where people would eventually actually work LESS after receiving a "bonus".
      http://www.laymanpsych.com/2009/06/money-as-a-counter-productive-motivating-factor/ [laymanpsych.com]
  • by azgard (461476) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @05:38AM (#32062504)

    In fact, people who do less useful work in society do earn more money. The reasons are twofold:

    1. If someone is doing it for the money, he is spending his time in finding ways how to make money as opposed to spending time to improve his skill in the particular area. Thus all other being equal he will get more money.

    2. You don't have to pay people who have intrinsic motivation to do something as much as you need to pay people for whom the money are the motivation. Sadly, that's economics 101.

    Usually, the "intrinsic motivation" (other reason than money) to do something corresponds with what is useful for society, too.

    (Note for moderators: I don't know if I am actually being sarcastic or not. It's sort of like Parkinson's law.)

    • by LKM (227954) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @05:55AM (#32062560) Homepage
      Similarly, in my experience, the people who end up in the highest-paying jobs are usually not the most productive or useful workers at a company, but simply the most sociopathic ones. Instead of helping others and improving the system, they optimized for their own success.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by DrHex (142347)

        So what Open Corporate Culture would promote and reward good behaviour in a realistic way?

        • John Lewis (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Kupfernigk (1190345)
          One of the most successful supermarket and department store businesses in the UK is John Lewis - which is a mutual, a partnership of its employees. Which is very much like Open Source projects.
        • by h00manist (800926)

          So what Open Corporate Culture would promote and reward good behaviour in a realistic way?

          It's called Basic Human Dignity. That's what people want. For everyone.

        • by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @08:11AM (#32062956) Homepage
          It is called small business, where management directly interacts with customers and management carries the full consequences for bad business decisions. Not that this stops sociopaths from being destructive in this business area as well, they simply can't do as much damage. Major restrictions in the allowed size of corporations is required to limit the harm caused by limited liabilities (share holders not liable for the debts of the companies they have part ownership of).

          For corporations, there is a validated and accurate test for detecting sociopaths (those with a genetic absence of conscience and empathy) so simple testing and exclusion is sufficient to resolve that problem. Whilst narcissists can also be damaging they generally lack the abilities to succeed outside of mass media, other than as puppets of the sociopaths who do the plotting and scheming whilst the narcissist presents the public face (think the Cheney Bush partnership).

          The rewards offered need to match the psychology of the desired work force, while still providing for an acceptable life style. Where the government provides a significant portion of important elements of a liveable society this free business from those costs ie. universal health care, free public education, welfare support for unemployment or injury, low cost quality housing, readily accessible low cost public transport. Full provision of these public services de-stresses a society as such, there is less pressure to earn more by what ever means possible, just in case you need it, this provides a more stable and honest work force.

          Greed can never be sated, in point of fact, greed is not so much driven by what they get but in what they can deny you, exclusivity, the rest of society starving and desperate whilst they wallow in excess (more than they can consume in a thousand life times).

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Hognoxious (631665)

            Major restrictions in the allowed size of corporations is required to limit the harm caused by limited liabilities (share holders not liable for the debts of the companies they have part ownership of).

            I got an Alan Smith - no, sorry, Adam - on line 2. Something about economies of scale.

            And you do know that limited liability companies are not necessarily large, don't you? I don't see how a hundred small or ten medium sized businesses going under is much different to one large one failing.

            • by rtb61 (674572)

              Economies of scale are largely a lie beyond a nominal size, what you mean to say is establishing a monopoly and specifically an uncompetitive monopoly, especially keeping in mind the period of history that Adam Smith originates from as well as the limits of understanding of modern business techniques and the impact of computerisation something of course far beyond 16th century business thinking, well before phone lines, so more accurately that would be archaic backward thinking boob on line two, too which

          • by ajlisows (768780) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @04:44PM (#32066330)

            I work for a smaller manufacturing company that employs maybe 350 people. I can say without a doubt that the President of the company (I'm assuming the highest paid person) earns his keep. A customer is really pissed off and wants to talk to the man in charge? No problem. He gets transferred right to the big boss. I've been in the room when he had to take a call like that and I can tell you that I was amazed at how quickly he was able to turn the Customer's mood from exceedingly belligerent to reasonably satisfied. I'm pretty sure I couldn't have done it and if I had to deal with that sort of thing on a regular basis, I would be looking for a different job. Our President does a lot of other important things throughout the day, but his willingness to be the one to take the abuse and sometimes turn it to our advantage is something that has really impressed me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sznupi (719324)

        Highest paying jobs might also simply make them like that.

        People are instinctively hoarders, getting & keeping what's valuable. It just so happens, as TFA claims, too many people convinced themselves that large sums of money are the most desirable loot.

        And when you have so much of precious, perhaps many more people are starting to look suspicious; a threshold for "enemy" becomes that much lower.

        • by mvdwege (243851)

          People are instinctively hoarders

          [citation needed]

          Seriously. On the face of it the very fact that humans formed societies should at least raise the suspicion that this is not universally true.

          Mart

          • by sznupi (719324)

            Uhm, the very fact that those societies (building on smaller blocks - remember, we can't really track more than few dozens individuals) survived means people are hoarders... (among other things)

            Oh, and the money in present age has a nice property of the possibility of being, instinctively (not technically of course...so?), "all mine".

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by mvdwege (243851)

              No, sorry. You don't get to assert a thing without showing a chain of reasoning. If people are hoarders instinctively, then there is no incentive to give up things to the collective, which is a major impediment to forming a society. On the face of it, your statement contradicts the fact that homo sapiens is, provably, a social animal.

              So, care to try again, and this time with a little bit more than just simply reasserting the same opinion again?

              Mart

              • by sznupi (719324)

                It simply boggles the mind that you can dispute something so self-evident (and your simplistic views of societies; do you really think that hoarding instinct in individuals, a usefull survival trait all-around, would be the single determining factor in dynamics of those societies?...). Heck, look around you. It's hard to find a house in which large portion of stuff wouldn't be unnecessary at given point in time (too often eventually thrown away); proportion being the larger the more "poor" people are of cou

    • by Hognoxious (631665) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @06:40AM (#32062708) Homepage Journal

      In fact, people who do less useful work in society do earn more money.

      Some people who earn a lot don't do anything useful (though what's useful is somewhat subjective anyway).

      However generalizing that to a universal law is a bit of a stretch.

      You don't have to pay people who have intrinsic motivation to do something as much as you need to pay people for whom the money are the motivation.

      You appear to assume a person can only be motivated by one thing at a time. I'd say, at the risk of getting too technical, that's it's a load of bollocks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by azgard (461476)

        However generalizing that to a universal law is a bit of a stretch.

        I don't think it's general law, just like Parkinson's law probably isn't. I am just (half-jokingly) giving arguments why it could be true, while I don't see good arguments for the opposite situation (except maybe the generally inborn human need for justice - see ultimatum game for instance).

        You appear to assume a person can only be motivated by one thing at a time. I'd say, at the risk of getting too technical, that's it's a load of bollocks.

        Well, at the end of the day, you have to compare the two things and determine which one is more important, or what their conversion ratio is. For example, you have to determine whether you want interesting but low paying

    • by Pastis (145655)

      I don't like generalizations...

      You could also say that a person who isn't good at her work is maybe not a food salesman neither and end up being not useful and earn less.

      > 1. If someone is doing it for the money, he is
      > spending his time in finding ways how to make
      > money as opposed to spending time to improve his
      > skill in the particular area. Thus all other
      > being equal he will get more money.

      I would invest in a salesman whose job would be to find me the most rewarding job (skills and mone

    • by einar2 (784078) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @07:21AM (#32062814)
      In fact, --- this is just your opinion. There is a lot of work outside of your personal experience which might appear less useful to you because you have not thought about it yet. This is ok. Nobody knows about everything. The limitation of your viewpoint does not set a standard and should not let you judge other people's work.

      There are several jobs I would consider useful for society where it would be difficult to come up with "intrinsic motivation" (my opinion). For myself, I conclude that equaling the glamor of a job with its usefulness is highly flawed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by azgard (461476)

        Yes, for example, cleaning toilets is definitely useful, but I doubt there is anyone who has intrinsic motivation to do it. And it's, I gather, quite low paying job. So why do people do it at all?

        Which brings me to the 3rd reason why the correlation above is true: People who have control over other people can have _them_ do the useful work, so they don't have to work themselves.

        Those all negative responses amuse me, because I think you just don't want to face the fact it's not fair (and I agree it isn't). B

        • by Alex Belits (437) *

          I have no motivation to clean toilets.

          However I have plenty of desire, and ability, to develop cheap and flexible robots that would be able to easily replace all toilet cleaners in the world. The problem is, people in power are satisfied with toilets being cleaned by desperate poor people, and have other aspirations. So instead of paying me for robots (or just providing me along with would-be toilet cleaners, with free decent living conditions -- I am not that picky), government spends money on weapons, and

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by kz45 (175825)

            "However I have plenty of desire, and ability, to develop cheap and flexible robots that would be able to easily replace all toilet cleaners in the world."

            Most people that clean toilets don't just clean toilets. It's just part of their cleaning duties. The rest of the duties (cleaning the office, taking out the garbage, etc.) would probably be too difficult for a robot with our current technology.

            "government spends money on weapons, and my electronics/programming work has to be limited to entertainment in

    • The author of that book mentioned on the 60 minutes segment about his book that folks who just want the money to buy expensive shit will probably never become a millionaire. Many of the folks in the book were frugal and weren't into the luxury goods and saved money and if they had a business, plowed the money back into the business - their motivation wasn't really to get rich - getting rich was a side effect of their lifestyle.

      The book, IIRC, wasn't that direct in its description of the motivations of those

    • by wigaloo (897600)

      (Note for moderators: I don't know if I am actually being sarcastic or not. It's sort of like Parkinson's law.)

      Had to look that one up.

      Parkinson's Law [wikipedia.org] is the adage first articulated by Cyril Northcote Parkinson as the first sentence of a humorous essay published in The Economist in 1955: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. [Emphasis mine]

      Sorry, what does that have to do with anything?

      • by azgard (461476)

        What I am saying, just like Parkinson's law, is something that's not clear whether or not should you take seriously or not. My arguments, like arguments of Mr. Parkinson, are valid, however the conclusion is so absurd that it is very hard to accept.

  • Apples and Oranges (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sco08y (615665) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @06:00AM (#32062576)

    How are the things executives do and the things open source developers do even remotely comparable?

    This whole thing is just a bunch of wankers saying how awful business people are because they get paid well.

    You know, fine, it's a standard trope at PBS. But at the same time, these wankers are saying I'm perfectly happy being underpaid. Well, fuck you very much, no I'm not, and you don't need to be pontificating on how much I should be paid. I think I can represent myself to potential clients just fine without your help, ta much.

    • by vertinox (846076)

      This whole thing is just a bunch of wankers saying how awful business people are because they get paid well.

      I don't see them saying this, but more of the point of obvious commonsense about business practices whether its for business people or average workers.

      If you pay people large bonuses for accomplishing said task in x amount of time, some people will game the system.

      Whether you tell a janitor to clean 100 toliets in an hour versus a ceo to come up with 100 ways to save the company money in an hour, some

  • by Kifoth (980005) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @06:03AM (#32062588)
    http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html [ted.com]

    If you haven't already seen it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ZERO1ZERO (948669)
      very good..

      For some reason I've been linked to that site a lot recently, and every video there I've seen is pretty decent, insightful, and fascinating.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by IICV (652597)

        That's because you never get linked to the bad, shallow and boring videos, obviously.

      • [A TED presentation] is pretty decent, insightful, and fascinating.

        I'd argue with insightful - the people giving the presentation may be so, but the viewers are not more so. In addition, the presentations are narrow, and shallow. Also, look up the etymology of fascination. [etymonline.com]

        Forcing a complex issue into an arbitrary twenty minute time-slot is the presentation equivalent of Twitter. And, just like Twitter (and Slashdot summaries), the information gives the appearance of understanding - not actual understand

  • I suppose the cleverness would be in working out what that threshold is. Probably higher the older you get.

    When I was younger as long as I had enough money to buy food, pay rent, and give me a few quid for beer, a night out and occasional clothes/toys I was happy. No work just meant sleeping at a friend's house and living off rice and beans until more work came in. I could take on a minimum wage job if I needed a bit of cash. Putting aside money for pensions, saving for a mortgage or feeding and clo

    • by sznupi (719324)

      It seems the solution is simply to not abandon the lighter lifestyle. Oh, and that means no official kids, too.

      • Probably also when you're younger you undercharge, life is about making sure you've got enough to get through the day or the month at the most. As time goes on you realise you might have to put some money aside for when you're retired, to cover medical emergencies, save a bit for times of unemployment etc. Then you realise minimum wage might get you by in the short term but you need to put some more on top of your rates to cover the long term costs.

        • by sznupi (719324)

          I'm not talking about minimum wage, I'm talking about not exhausting yourself. Things you mention don't suffice alone as a reason why you would have to do it - you can set aside some funds even when the pay isn't "great"; they won't dissapear (if set aside in a way that will be ahead of inflation at the least). "Accidentally" your health will be probably better, long term, too...

          Generally I think it has more to do with wastefulness and weird priorities than some real need; for example what's the point in wa

  • by trifish (826353) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @06:06AM (#32062598)

    The supporting scientific evidence that they provided (the psychological experiment) seems to me to be bogus (and its results misinterpreted).

    The people who were offered money for solving the task may have been influenced in a way that made them subconsciously believe it was a difficult (perhaps even impossible) task to solve. Subconsciously, they may have been kind of PARALYZED by this very thought. Why would a psychologist offer dollars to me if this was easily solvable?

    On the other hand, the other group, which was offered no money, must have been more RELAXED, less paralyzed and more positive-thinking. Simply put, the people in this group believed it was possible to solve the task.

    Hence, in this particular context, the conclusion that money decreases motivation might be incorrect. And the biggest mistake was to generalize that conclusion and apply to any business.

    • You're not making sense. If people are paralyzed as you suggest from being offered money for this experiment, then they'll also be paralyzed for anything that they're being offered money to do as well. I suppose such people exist, who are suspicious as soon as they are being offered money, but it's far from clear that this would be a general trend.

      In general, the mere offer of money doesn't paralyze people. It usually makes them greedy for more.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by timmarhy (659436)
      I to think the experiment is horribly flawed but not for that reason. offering more money doesn't decrease motivation at all, offering more money with NO RISK OF FAILURE is a demotivator.

      TFA just wants to push buttons and pander to popular opinion, but the reality is that it's more complex then "omgz wall st guys are lazy". i'd be shocked if anyone on wall st worked less then 14 hrs a day.

      • by atomic777 (860023)

        Both parent and grandparent have failed to understand the significance of the experiment. The task was specifically chosen as a right-brain type of activity. With a large monetary award, left-brain thinking creeps into the process and reduces performance.

        With a smaller reward and less pressure, right-brained activity can flourish and the solution found much faster. If the task had been, say, hammer these 20 nails into this wall, I would expect a correlation between total time to complete the task, and co

      • It is amazing, the entire economy is down the drain and people are still defending the system. Every single bank bonus being paid now comes straight out of welfare for bank and still people defend it.

        Truly capitalists are the black knight.

    • by grumbel (592662)

      On top of that clever problem solving is only a small part of real world work. With most normal tasks you know the solution already very well right from the start, it just takes time and effort to implement it. I bet money would have had quite a positive impact when the task would have been to dig a hole and you get money for how deep it was. And back to the clever problem solving: More money might not make the people already on the job solve problems faster, but what about getting the clever people to do t

    • Subconsciously, they may have been kind of PARALYZED by this very thought. Why would a psychologist offer dollars to me if this was easily solvable?
      On the other hand, the other group, which was offered no money, must have been more RELAXED

      I think there's some logic in what you say. No doubt the woo-woo types who like to sing kumbayaa while looking at motivational posters will disagree, but I think there is such a thing as trying too hard and caring too much. You lose your cool. You lose your perspective.

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @11:11AM (#32064002) Journal

      The supporting scientific evidence that they provided (the psychological experiment) seems to me to be bogus (and its results misinterpreted).

      The people who were offered money for solving the task may have been influenced in a way that made them subconsciously believe it was a difficult (perhaps even impossible) task to solve. Subconsciously, they may have been kind of PARALYZED by this very thought. Why would a psychologist offer dollars to me if this was easily solvable?

      You're missing the point: Money + time pressure effectively neutralizes the ability of people to be creative and recontextualize the box as a support for the candle instead of a container for the tacks.

      What TFA neglects to mention is that when the same problem is presented with the tacks in a pile next to their box, almost everyone solves the problem right away, money or not.

      Psychology is fun because simple experiments can illuminate some very fundamental mental processes.

  • by rastos1 (601318) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @06:41AM (#32062712) Homepage

    New studies reveal that beyond a certain threshold, large financial rewards can actually become a drag on performance in the workplace.

    I'm willing to offer myself as a test subject to verify this hypothesis.

  • I always thought setting up clear recognition of who has most contributed to open source would be great. Setting criteria would be important. Lines of code, time of involvement, hours of labor, number of users or longevity of code...
    • by grumbel (592662)

      That might give a little bit extra motivation, but at the end of the day, all the recognition in the world doesn't bring you food on the table. The by far biggest problem with Open Source I have seen over the years is simply that a lot of the contributors disappear after a while, not because they don't like doing what they do, but simply because they don't have the time for it any more, as their real job keeps them busy enough.

  • It might be off topic but as most of you have not read the article, here we go anyway:

    I do work for a huge international bank and I do receive typically boni in the range of 4-6 monthly salaries.
    As a lot of you seem to have strange prejudices about people receiving a bonus at a bank, let me rectify your picture. I am not an investment banker. I hardly ever wear tie nor suit. As a senior IT architect, my job is to look into the long term maintainability of large scale software systems. As a consequence, s
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sedmonds (94908)

      At the bank I work, you do not receive a bonus for being extraordinarily good. You are entitled for a bonus if you did your job.

      That is not a bonus. That is base compensation - even if the amount of the bonus isn't a fixed dollar figure. A bonus is something you are NOT entitled to.

      • by Skapare (16644)

        Having been on the receiving end of bonuses, I'd say that is not true. My bonuses were IT projects completion bonuses. If it was done on time, and worked, I got my bonus. If it were to have been late, I would have gotten a pro-rated bonus. If it didn't work, I would have gotten squat. If left in the middle of the project, I would have gotten squat. Instead, I delivered the projects, working, and on time. I got my bonus and took a vacation.

        BTW, in two of the projects, the terms, including deadline and

    • by Skapare (16644)

      I would have taken the money.

      A bonus is just a part of a more complex compensation structure. And in many cases, it makes the executive management feel better about it more so than the employees who receive it. Maybe most cases. Maybe all cases.

      So when the economy goes down and every business in a particular industry loses money, shouldn't you consider the business that lost the least as a "success" and compensate its management accordingly? I see no problem with bonuses in a down economy. They kept th

      • by Alex Belits (437) *

        But when that objective cannot be met at certain times, the clear objective is to SURVIVE.

        Why?

        If people in control of the business can easily move elsewhere, they are not interested in survival of that business. The situation would be different if there was a real possibility that after the failure of the business former employees would kill their former management that orchestrated this failure, however that would be something from a CIVILIZED society, not sociopath's paradise that is modern US.

  • They ensure a readily available supply of people willing to enter the field for relatively less pay than other fields. This ensures they have a large talent pool that they can pick from; those that decide it's not for tehm (100+ Hour weeks) or can't cut it leave. It's the promise of a payoff that keeps the talent flowing; just like in sports or drug dealing. After all, why would you sell drugs when you can make more at McDonalds? (see Freakenomics for an interesting article on just that) Rewards have mo
  • So left-right (analytical thinking, creativity) balance is cited as increasingly crucial to success in the marketplace, and has been shown to deteriorate when influenced by the promise of monetary gain. Interesting -- if one thought for one moment that given a random sample of the population, the mere promise of financial reward could somehow enhance those qualities. But in science it is often necessary to demonstrate a principle, however obvious, before moving on to more interesting experiments. Any merit
    • by Weezul (52464)

      In fact, financial rewards works great for finding and retaining high level talent. It's bonuses that induce people to optimize their bonus over the final product.

      That said, there are companies that give the executives stock options that din't vest until after they retire, meaning the executives must optimize the company for long term profitability. You could offer programmers the same similar deal where their bonuses are tied to the ongoing profitability of the intellectual property they created while em

  • While interesting, the article fails to account of the social pressures of living in a capitalist society. In the US in particular, social status and money are so hopelessly intertwined that the intertia for change would be positively glacial. Society continuously reinforces grabbing as much as possible and as often as possible. The article also fails to account for graft and criminality. Looks at the AIG, Goldman Sachs, and Bernie Ebbers of the world. Unfortunately, money is the motivator.
  • While the article (the candle experiment) is interesting, it may have limited applicability to what is going on on Wall Street.

    There are several ideas going around about how our recent economic/investment collapse is some sort of failure of supposedly brilliant and highly paid people to manage various financial instruments properly. There are several incorrect assumptions here that may lead us to false conclusions:

    The first is that this collapse was shared across the entire investment community. As investig

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