Acontrolled field experiment investigates order picking performance in terms of productivity. We examined threemanual picker-to-parts order picking methods (parallel, zone, and dynamic zone picking) under two different incen-tive systems (competition-based vs. cooperation-based) for pickers with different regulatory foci (prevention-focus vs. pro-motion-focus). The study was carried out in a warehouse erected especially for the purposes of order picking research.Our results show that when using a parallel picking method, a competition-based incentive system increases productivitycompared to a cooperation-based incentive system, and that when using a zone picking method it is more productive touse a cooperation-based incentive system. This pattern of results was especially pronounced for pickers with a dominantpromotion focus. Dominantly, prevention-focused pickers were more productive in zone picking with a cooperation-basedincentive system than a competition-based incentive system, but in the other two picking methods the incentive systemsdelivered a similar productivity performance. No effects on order picking quality were identified. The analyses demon-strate that by aligning order picking methods, incentive systems, and regulatory focus, warehouses can substantiallyimprove productivity.

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Keywords behavioral operations, incentives, order picking, regulatory focus, warehousing
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Series ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal Production and Operations Management
de Vries, J, de Koster, M.B.M, & Stam, D.A. (2016). Aligning Order Picking Methods, Incentive Systems, and Regulatory Focus to Increase Performance. Production and Operations Management, 25(8), 1363–1376. doi:10.1111/poms.12547