Smallest Meaningful Pay Increases: Field Test, Constructive Replication, and Extension

Atul Mitra, Aino Tenhiälä, Jason DeFrance Shaw

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The authors extend prior literature by examining, in two distinct field settings, smallest meaningful pay increases (SMPIs) in terms of magnitude, behavioral intention, and affective reactions. In Study 1, a two-wave study of 177 employees of a university medical center in the United States, the authors find stable thresholds of about 5.0 percent for positive reactions to pay increases (magnitude [5.4 percent], behavioral intentions [4.2 percent], and affective reactions [5.6 percent]). In Study 2, a sample of 495 university employees in Finland, the authors also find stable but slightly higher thresholds of about 8 percent for behavioral intentions (8.4 percent) and positive affective reactions (7.2 percent) to pay increases. They also find threshold effects of -5.7 percent for behavioral intentions and -5.8 percent for negative affective reactions in response to restricted future pay increases levied in the transition to a new pay system. Discussion of the results centers on pay raise administration and future research regarding implied and direct pay reductions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-81
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Resource Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Emotion in the workplace
  • Pay for performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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