The Connection Between Academic Research and Total Rewards Professionals

A Survey of Practitioner Knowledge and Discussion of Research


This study was undertaken to help WorldatWork ascertain practitioner knowledge of academic research in total rewards and to explore barriers to the application of that research.

A random sample of WorldatWork members was asked to indicate whether 10 statements relating to total rewards topics for which academic findings are available are true or false.

A total of 5,517 (including undeliverable) e-mail invitations went out to a random sample of WorldatWork Premier Members. A total of 641 substantively complete (responding to at least 8 of the 10 true/false items) were received in the two weeks the survey was open; a 12 percent response rate.

The participants were given a list of 10 statements regarding total rewards topics that have been the subject of published academic research. The statements represented a broad range of topics so participants would need a breadth and depth of knowledge to be familiar with research in all the areas.

Survey Results


Respondents were commonly aware of the direction of academic findings on a broad variety of total rewards topics (8 of the 10 items were correctly identified by more than 70 percent of respondents). Respondents scored well, even on items outside of their current role.

Two items were commonly missed (regarding wage levels falling during recessions and organizational impacts of workers understanding how their pay is determined). Reasons for these incorrect responses are explored in the discussion of research findings.

Respondents generally (83 percent) found this exercise interesting and provided a substantial set of comments related to other topics of interest. (One third of all respondents provided at least one other topic in response to an open ended question to list up to three for which they would be interested in learning more about academic findings / perspectives.)

There is some common agreement on the obstacles that prevent total rewards practitioners from implementing academic findings in organizations.

Search by Year

  • 2010
    This is a Member Only Benefit.

Have Questions?


+1 877 951 9191

USA and Canada

+1 480 951 9191

Other Countries


Email Us