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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Performance Evaluation, Influence Activities, and Bureaucratic Work Behavior: Evidence from China

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Subjective performance evaluation is widely used by firms and governments toprovide work incentives. However, delegating evaluation power to local seniorleadership could induce influence activities: agents might devote much effortsto please their supervisors, rather than focusing on productive tasks that benefittheir organizations. We conduct a large-scale randomized field experimentamong Chinese local government employees and provide the first rigorousempirical evidence on the existence and implications of influence activities. Wefind that employees do engage in evaluator-specific influence to affectevaluation outcomes, and that this process can be partly observed by their coworkers.However, introducing uncertainty in the identity of the evaluatordiscourages evaluator-specific influence activities and significantly improves thework performance of local government employees.

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