Incentive system

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Incentive systems ( English incentive systems ) is the body granted to any one individual, tangible and intangible incentives that the recipient a subjective value (incentive value, satisfaction value, valence , benefits have).


Characteristics of company incentive systems are, among other things, the conscious design and its target character. In a business context, incentive systems are essentially used to pursue three parallel goals: behavior control, motivation and risk transfer . A match should be achieved between the goals of the organization and the individual or the team through the conscious use of incentives. For the evaluation of the incentive by the employee, not only the material value of the incentive, but also the experience value is relevant.


The behavioral basis of incentive systems can be seen in organizational and motivational psychology as well as in incentive-contribution theory . From an economic point of view, incentive systems can be traced back to the principal-agent theory . From the gain sharing perspective (also known as the win-win system), incentive systems are based on the view that organizational members should participate in the success they have achieved.

One example of incentive systems is results-based remuneration. This describes the alignment of the amount of the remuneration to a result, whereby the operative company result can be meant as well as an individual work result or that of a team. A corresponding incentive is set for the achievement of quantitative and qualitative results targets set in advance . A bonus is paid out if the target is met or exceeded . A malus rule is possible if the target is not reached, provided there are no contrary legal regulations.

Methodical and organizational development work is essential for the introduction and administration of an incentive system by the personnel management as well as for the implementation by the executives .


A major criticism of this point of view is the assumption that the individual behaves in principle opportunistically and can only be induced to behave in the interests of the organization through incentives and sanctions .


  • Karl Friedrich Ackermann: Incentive Systems . In: Erwin Grochla, Waldemar Wittmann (Hrsg.): Concise dictionary of business administration . 4th, completely redesigned edition, Stuttgart 1974. ( Encyclopedia of Business Administration, Volume I / I) Sp. 156 163.
  • Fred G. Becker : Incentive Systems for Managers . Stuttgart 1990.
  • Jöran Beel: Project Team Rewards - Rewarding and Motivating Your Project Team . New York 2007. Book on incentive systems in project management with a good overview of the literature on incentive systems in general. E-book PDF, available free of charge on the homepage.
  • Günther Schanz (Ed.): Manual of incentive systems . Stuttgart 1991. p. 753 776.
  • Volker Schulz: Non-material incentives as an instrument of corporate management: design approaches and effects . DUV 2000, ISBN 3824404826 ( plus dissertation, University of Rostock 1998)
  • Reinhard K. Sprenger : The myth of motivation: ways out of a dead end . Campus 20th edition 2014, ISBN 978-3593501567
  • Gunther Wolf: Variable remuneration - ingeniously easy to manage companies, relieve managers and inspire employees . 3. Edition. Hamburg 2010. ISBN 978-3-931832-67-4 .
  • Christian Lukas: Performance-based remuneration as a qualification incentive . German University Publishing House Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 978-3-8350-0108-4 .
  • Günther Schanz : Manual of incentive systems in business and administration . Schäffer-Poeschel Verlag 1991, ISBN 978-3-7910-0558-4

See also