This study examines the effects of fairness in budgeting on individual performance in a nonparticipative budgeting setting. An experiment was conducted in which subjects performed a production task and were compensated under a budget‐based incentive contract. Performance was lowest when an unfair budget target was assigned using an unfair budgeting process. When the budget target assigned was fair, the fairness or unfairness of the budgeting process had no effect on performance. When an unfair budget target was determined using a fair budgeting process, mean performance was not significantly different from mean performance of the subjects assigned fair budget targets. Implications of this result in assigning stretch targets are discussed.

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