Linking performance measurement with individual behaviour: the role of emotions

Prödel, Stephan (2022) Linking performance measurement with individual behaviour: the role of emotions. DBA thesis, University of Gloucestershire. doi:10.46289/EE82Q7P4

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The desire to measure, evaluate and compare performance is almost as old as humanity itself. While individual performance evaluations have predominantly been documented since ancient times, more complex performance management systems (PMS) have developed in the course of industrialisation. Management scientists continued to develop these systems and at the end of the 20th century they experienced a real boom, resulting in the term "performance measurement revolution" (Eccles, 1991). Despite the intense scientific discourse, the growing number of guidelines and consulting services, reports of failed PMS implementations became more frequent after the turn of the millennium. The actual failure rate cannot be conclusively determined; the information in the literature about PMS initiatives that did not achieve their goals varies between 20-70 per cent (cf. Bourne, Neely, Platts, & Mills, 2002; McCunn, 1998). Looking at the reasons for failure, researchers primarily identified ‘technical’ (i.e., methodological) reasons as causes for failure of PMS implementation. Few focused their attention on the core element of any organisation: the people; and how they feel about being measured. Although there is an intensive examination of employee behaviour from a wide variety of research fields, such as human resources, work and organisational psychology or motivation research, to name but a few, research so far relied primarily on cognitive, motivational and social psychology (Birnberg, Luft, & Shields, 2006). In general, the potential role of emotions has been given insufficient attention in management sciences (Hall, 2016) and especially the relationship between performance measurement and emotions is not well understood. Thus, this study examines which aspects of performance measurement are related to positive emotions, how to avoid negative emotions and what implications for practitioners arise. Using a phenomenological approach based on Husserl’s transcendental descriptive phenomenology I conducted interviews with 11 employees from low-level to middle management of a medium-sized organization that experienced an onerous and unsatisfactory implementation of a PMS to elicit their experiences and feelings regarding performance measurement. The findings show that employees want a ‘fair’ process from goal setting through performance measurement to performance evaluation. In their eyes, fairness is achieved, among other things, by agreeing on ambitious but achievable goals that are also adjusted accordingly in the event of unforeseeable changes in general conditions, that performance measurement is transparent and comprehensible, and that performance evaluation is carried out in an unbiased and consistent manner. The behaviour of supervisors, their interaction with employees and their communication skills as well as organizational culture also have a decisive influence on the perception of fairness. An important finding is that there are three different categories of relationships between characteristics of performance measurement and emotions. The first category of aspects is not able to evoke positive emotions. This is because these attributes are implicitly assumed by employees. Only their non-fulfilment leads to negative emotions. The second category of attributes scales according to their degree of fulfilment, i.e., low fulfilment tends to generate negative emotions, while higher degrees of fulfilment generate positive emotions. The third category does not lead to negative emotions in the case of non-fulfilment, but to over-proportionally positive emotions even in the case of low fulfilment. These findings indicate that practitioners should focus on the attributes that scale proportionally to their level of fulfilment, as employees pay particular attention to these. Furthermore, it is worthwhile to invest in the aspects that have a high impact even with a low degree of fulfilment. However, the presupposed features should not be neglected, as they can undo all efforts if they are not fulfilled.

Item Type: Thesis (DBA)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Performance measurement; Organisational behaviour; Performance Management System; Perception of fairness; Level of fulfilment
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business > HF5549 Personnel management. Employment management
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > Gloucestershire Business School
Research Priority Areas: Creative Practice and Theory
Depositing User: Kamila Niekoraniec
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2023 11:46
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2023 11:46

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