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‘You Are Free To Choose . . . Are You?’ Organisational Punishment As A Productivity Incentive In The Social Science Literature

Tom McNamara, Debrah Meloso, Marco Michelotti, Petya Puncheva-Michelotti

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This article investigates the theoretical and empirical relationships between organisational punishment and productivity. We do so by highlighting the contributions of two academic fields to this topic: management and economics. We underscore the many common theoretical and empirical grounds across management and economics. We heighten, in particular, how motivation and learning theories have contributed to the development of both theoretical and empirical research on this topic. This article also argues that this debate could be significantly advanced if insights stemming from industrial relations and labour process theory were also considered, as these disciplines have traditionally focused on macro-issues such as how changes in the economic/institutional contexts may affect the likelihood that organisations will resort to punishment. In order to foster future research on this topic, three research themes were developed: (a) freedom of choice and the role of contract completeness; (b) perception of punishment, monitoring and productivity; and (c) punishment, productivity and exogenous variables.