Using outperformance pay to motivate academics: insiders' accounts of promises and problems

Laurie Field, Verity Greenwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many researchers have investigated the appropriateness of pay for outperformance, (also called 'merit-based pay' and 'performance-based pay') for academics, but a review of this body of work shows that the voice of academics themselves is largely absent. This article is a contribution to addressing this gap, summarising the views of a sample of academics at one Australian university about the promises and problems of outperformance pay. The resultant close-up perspective reveals several important contrasts, most notably (a) the very different responses of business academics and academics in non-business disciplines to the concept of pay for outperformance (with business academics tending to be strongly in favour and non-business academics tending to be strongly opposed) and (b) where a pay for outperformance scheme exists, as it does in the faculty of business discussed here, the contrast between views about pay for outperformance in principle (strongly supported) and as actually implemented (widely criticised). In addition to these contrasts, the material presented raises many issues for universities considering pay for outperformance and for academics interested in the realities of such schemes, including the many (perhaps insurmountable) challenges surrounding implementation and the real possibility that, for academics achieving at or above base-level expectations, outperformance pay may actually de-motivate in the long term.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-16
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian Universities' Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • academic
  • remuneration
  • pay
  • merit
  • performance

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Using outperformance pay to motivate academics: insiders' accounts of promises and problems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this