Evolution and Change
Section I - An Historical Retrospective: Having reviewed the different approaches to performance appraisal systems PASs, it would seem a relatively simple matter to establish which of the various formats actually best succeeds to achieve the goals of performance appraisal to the highest degree. In reality, over a period of many years, researchers attempted to describe the process that leads to effective performance evaluation but arrived at no conclusive finding. In order to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the lack of finality regarding this question, this chapter indicates that several phases in the historical development of performance appraisal can be identified. In each phase, those who developed the formats and sought out their effectiveness, tended to highlight one major aspect or focus pertaining to the efficacy of the formats. These foci, in turn, reflected changing perspectives and priorities among researchers and practitioners regarding the purposes and strengths of the performance appraisal formats and the possibilities of enhancing the formats so that they demonstrate ever-enhanced reliability, validity and accuracy. Notably, the historical review also refers to the contemporary changing factors in the business world that have impinged on the viability of traditional performance appraisal techniques, a subject that is discussed in more detail in later chapters.: Section II - The Efficacy of Appraisal Formats Building on the historical account of the search for psychometric soundness of appraisal formats and our understanding of the various formats discussed in Chapter 3, we now delve into a more systematic and critical review of the effectiveness of the various performance appraisal formats reviewed, based on several assumptions: (1) if management has clarity of goals for the PAS, and the vision and concern to create the necessary organizational culture and strategy, then the PAS can reach maximal levels of reliability, validity and accuracy, (2) the type of performance appraisal format employed has positive (albeit indirect) effects on performance, and (3) despite arguments decrying the viability of PAS, the systems will be employed for many years to come – especially if all the stages in their preparation and execution in the workplace are fulfilled in the spirit and professional manner to be described in the following chapters.Section III - Methodological improvements of the appraisal formats: Before closing this chapter, we pay attention to the aforementioned controversy surrounding the question of the rating accuracy of rating scales. Clearly, along with other aspects of methods of improving PAS, accuracy – almost by definition (and although considered passé) – is still critically important to any performance appraisal procedure. Indeed, sophisticated rating formats are supposed to enhance accuracy of performance ratings: these formats are designed so that they impose structure on raters’ observations and appraisal processes, thus to bypass inherent, innate cognitive handicaps of raters, which may well account for the rating inaccuracies. These concluding notes to this chapter incorporate both traditional arguments against the validity of performance appraisal formats based on ‘poor accuracy’ and fresh data to support the notion of continued research on rating formats that incorporate alternative and extended rating properties, ‘that have provided a much clearer picture regarding the value of rating formats’ (Bartram, 2007).
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