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Employee Responses to Formal Performance Appraisal Feedback


The present study investigates the attitudinal impacts of the receipt of formal performance appraisal feedback. It is suggested that the feedback that one is "satisfactory" will be disconfirming for many feedback recipients. Therefore, it is hypothesized that (a) attitudes toward the performance appraisal systems and (b) organizational commitment will decrease and remain lower for those receiving "satisfactory" ratings, whereas the attitudes of those receiving higher appraisal ratings will remain unchanged. The hypotheses are tested on panels of management and nonmanagement employees (these latter receiving new appraisals 12 months after their managers) in two federal agencies over a 30-month period using perceived and actual performance ratings. There was a significant and stable drop in the organizational commitment of satisfactory employees after the introduction of formal appraisals, with mixed results for attitudes toward the appraisal system. The findings suggest that potentially negative consequences of implicitly comparative formal performance appraisals can occur for those performing at a satisfactory, but not outstanding, level. This study also provides an empirical check on the accuracy of self-reported appraisal ratings. © 1986 American Psychological Association.

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