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Applying evidence-based HRM: the case of bonuses in the home furnishing industry

André de Waal (Maastricht School of Management, Maastricht, The Netherlands)
Maarten Roobol (Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Evidence-based HRM

ISSN: 2049-3983

Article publication date: 14 October 2014




In the home furnishing industry outside contract installers produce higher quality work than in-house installers which is reflected in less revisits to customers to repair mistakes. Many home furnishing retailers are therefore contemplating introducing so that the quality of the work of in-house installers will be linked to financial incentives, thus resembling the situation of contract installers. However, a necessary condition for a successful introduction of bonuses is that in-house installers are motivated by it to deliver better quality work, i.e. cause less revisits. The purpose of this paper is to look into the question whether the introduction of bonuses could be used to increase the quality of work of in-house.


For the research the four steps of the evidence-based HRM framework, as developed by Rousseau and Barends (2011), were used. In steps 1, literature review, the research question was formulated based on work motivation theories (in particular on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, bonuses, and the differences between contract workers and organizational employees). In step 2, systematic gathering of facts, two existing questionnaires were combined to measure the motivation of the two types of installers.


In step 3, evaluation, the differences between the motivational factors and attitude towards bonuses was analysed for both groups of installers. The research results show that although in-house installers are potentially motivated by bonuses, they differ so much from contract installers in their general work motivation that introducing bonuses by no means will be a success. In step 4, ethical considerations, the consequences of the research findings were discussed.

Research limitations/implications

The main limitations are the use of a self-constructed questionnaire and the fact that the research was conducted at only one case company, thus rendering the generalization of findings problematic.

Practical implications

The practical implication of the study is that management of the case company can now better prepare itself for the issues to be expected when introducing bonuses for the in-house installers.


This research adds to the literature on the effects of bonuses on motivation. It also addresses a gap in the literature as there is currently hardly any academic literature on the conditions necessary to introduce bonuses for craftsmen successfully, and on whether this introduction is advantageous for organizations in the first place. In addition, the case company offered the opportunity to research the issue in a comparative way, by looking at the motivational factors influencing in-house installers and contract installers who work in the same conditions, something which to the knowledge of the authors has not been done before. Finally, the sue of an evidence-based HRM framework is quite unique for the human resource management field.



de Waal, A. and Roobol, M. (2014), "Applying evidence-based HRM: the case of bonuses in the home furnishing industry", Evidence-based HRM, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 192-208.



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