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Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise and Other Bribes [Paperback]

Alfie Kohn
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.41
Price: 9.38 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise and Other Bribes + Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason
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Product details

  • Paperback: 446 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (Trade); New edition edition (21 Mar 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618001816
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618001811
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 16.8 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 77,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Criticizes the system of motivating through reward, offering arguments for motivating people by working with them instead of doing things to them.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
THERE IS A TIME to admire the grace and persuasive power of an influential idea, and there is a time to fear its hold over us. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, Incisive, Inspiring 20 Dec 2010
By Mr. Ross Maynard VINE VOICE
Is the widespread business practice of incentives, merit awards, and other rewards desirable in business ? This is an important question. After all, an organisation's reward policies are often an important element in its culture.

It is a question that Alfie Kohn addresses in his book "Punished by Rewards". Kohn makes a blistering attack on the culture of contingent rewards (do this and get a reward), presenting extensive evidence that such rewards bring no long term benefit and, in fact, are positively counter-active: destroying cooperation and teamwork (with group incentives discouraging cooperation between groups); and creating unhealthy conflicts between managers and staff. Rewards, he shows, create an organisation of dysfunctional mercenaries, rather than a supportive team of problem solvers.

The evidence presented is convincing - individual and group incentives undermine the cooperative, inquisitive, mutually respectful, problem solving culture we should be aiming for. Furthermore, Mr Kohn argues that reward structures distract attention from the root causes of problems that affect performance. Rewards encourage risk avoidance, "passing the buck", and keeping quiet about mistakes; and they discourage creativity and action to improve business processes.

Mr Kohn summarises his arguments thus: "when we are working for a reward, we do exactly what is necessary to get it, and no more". Rewards may encourage activity, but they impact adversely on quality, commitment and engagement. The trouble is that the reward becomes the end in itself. Instead of working together to improve the process, we work as individuals to determine the easiest route to gain the reward.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and thought-provoking 7 Feb 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book's central contention - that incentives are frequently counter-productive - has enormous implications for the way we organise our schools and our businesses. Kohn marshalls impressive research and combines it with an engaging writing style.
So many of us believe that you "get what you reward" but Kohn presents a fascinating challenge to this view. So much of what he has to say about performance incentives is a major warning signal for educationalists and businesspeople.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 13 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
really lovely book!
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By Paul
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An excellent thought-provoking read. Challenges many of the preconceived ideas in education about praise and reward. Glad I bought it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Informative 3 Oct 2013
By Danny
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I purchased this for a university assignment, and it served a function in that regard. Not exactly an enthralling read however I must say, though it was interesting on some levels.
I wouldn't recommend this book unless you need it for an assignment (obviously) or if you are in the teaching profession.
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