Journal of Management 1994, Vol. 20, No.

4, 737-756 Rater Motivation in the

Performance Appraisal Context:
A Theoretical Framework Michael M. Harris University of Missouri Although researchers have indicated the potential importance of rater motivation for understanding and improving performance appraisalprocesses, little empirical research or conceptual writing has addressed this topic. The purpose of this paper is to offer a model of the antecedents and outcomes of appraiser motivation, and suggest hypotheses for research. Researchers are encouraged to conduct further research on this important issue. Performance appraisal has been the focus of a flurry of research activity in the past several decades (Bretz, Milkovich & Read, 1992; Fisher, 1989). There has also been continued use of performance appraisal systems by business and industry, with recent surveys indicating that between 74 to 89% of firms have a formal system (Murphy & Cleveland, 1991). Formal performance appraisal systems are used for a number of different purposes, including human resource decisions, feedback, and program evaluation (Cleveland, Murphy & Williams, 1989). Although there has been a substantial amount of research on performance appraisal, practically all of this work has focused on understanding and improving appraisers’ ability (Banks & Murphy, 1985; Bernardin & Beatty, 1984). Thus, a plethora of research exists regarding such issues as the effect of rating formats (Landy & Farr, 1980) and training (Smith, 1986) on appraisers’

ability to evaluate subordinates. More recently, though, a number of researchers have bemoaned the dearth of writing on appraisers’ motivation in the performance rating context (e.g., Bernardin & Villanova, 1986; Heneman, Schwab, Fossum & Dwyer, 1989; Murphy & Cleveland, 1991). Despite recent calls for more work in this area (e.g., Banks & Murphy, 1985), there has been practically no published empirical research and only limited conceptual work regarding the nature, antecedents, and consequences of appraiser motivation (Cleveland & Murphy, 1992; DeNisi & K. Williams, 1988; Fisher, 1989). Direct all correspondence to: Michael M. Harris, University of Missouri, School of Business Administration, 8001 Natural Bridge Road, St. Louis, MO 63121-4499. Copyright @ 1994 by JAI Press Inc. 0149-2063 737 738 HARRIS The purpose of this paper is to describe a model of causes and effects of rater motivation in the performance appraisal context. Although there have been several book chapters and papers that provide conceptual models of rater motivation (e.g., DeCotiis & Petit, 1978; Mohrman & Lawler, 1983; Murphy & Cleveland, 1991), the present paper differs from other work in several ways. First, other models of rater motivation have focused primarily or exclusively on appraiser motivation at the rating stage. As a result, many of these models assume that the rater has accurate information, but may be unwilling to publicly report that information (Hauenstein, 1992). An assumption of the present paper is that a nonmotivated rater will use less thorough and deliberate information processing techniques than a motivated rater, and therefore may have limited information about a particular ratee. In addition, the models that focus on the rating stage do not consider the possible effects of rater motivation on other stages of the performance appraisal process, such as the acquisition of information. An assumption of this paper is that rater motivation may affect

all stages of the performance appraisal process. Finally, the focus on the rating stage has led researchers to conclude that appraisers have limited motivation, when in fact there is some evidence that raters may be more motivated to provide feedback.’ As observed by Longenecker, Sims, and Gioia “accuracy is not the primary concern of the practicing executive in appraising subordinates. The main concern is how best to use the appraisal process to motivate and reward subordinates”( 1987, p. 191). A second feature of the present model is that rating inaccuracy resulting from motivational deficiencies may be both intentional and unintentional; other writing on the topic has implied that rating inaccuracy is predominantly intentional. Finally, the present paper takes a broad perspective by incorporating recent social psychological research on rater motivation. In particular, work by Tetlock (e.g., Tetlock, 1985) on accountability is described, as well as other social psychological research on rater motivation. This paper is divided into five sections. First, a brief overview of the theoretical model is offered. The second section of this paper provides a detailed discussion of the determinants of rater motivation. Factors affecting the determinants are reviewed next. The fourth section discusses the effects of rater motivation on performance appraisal processes and behaviors. The final section considers some additional questions related to rater motivation. It should be noted that the focus of this paper concerns the supervisor of a particular ratee. The reason for concentrating on this appraiser, rather than peer, subordinate or other raters, is that the subordinate’s supervisor is by far the most common rater (Bretz et al., 1992). However, many of the concepts discussed here may be applicable to other raters, such as peers. Rater Motivation: An Overview Motivation is a difficult construct to define (Steers & Porter, 1987). In keeping with other approaches, however, rater motivation will be described here

1994 RATER MOTIVATION 739 Variables Affecting Motivational Factors I Situational l Accountability 0 Organizational HRM Strategy 0 Task/Outcome Dependence l Trust l Forms Personal Motivational Factors Performance AppriXiSd Behaviors Figure 1.in terms of the basic goals or objectives that drive behavior (Cleveland & Murphy. for a recent review . Rather than attempting to advance or apply a more universal JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT. the framework contains many features of the cognitive choice models (see Kanfer. 1979). 20. VOL. 1990. Nevertheless. Model of Rater Motivation theory. Pinder & Moore. NO. the present model was designed to explain and understand issues pertaining specifically to rater motivation in the performance appraisal context (cf. 4. 1992).

1990). 1987. and impression management. is simply a summary or extension of previous work.. 1991). and when necessary. It is assumed for present purposes that the performance appraisal process involves a series of behaviors during which the appraiser observes. there are several points raised here that have not been made explicit in previous work. perceived negative consequences. 1994 740 HARRIS Determinants of Rater Motivation A number of scholars have discussed determinants of rater motivation in the performance appraisal context (e. At various times. or provide feedback to.g. 4. 1984). recalls and integrates appraisee behavior (Wexley & Klimoski. stores. Cleveland & Murphy. JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT. and for a litany of different purposes. The three determinants of rater motivation are perceived rewards. these behaviors will be referred to here as information processing. VOL. accountability) and personal (e. the appraisee. A more detailed discussion of the determinants follows next.of such models). Gioia & Sims. Longenecker.g. 1992. mood) variables. That is. NO. Murphy & Cleveland. these determinants are hypothesized to be affected by both situational (e. Likewise. Nevertheless. In the performance appraisal context. it is possible that engaging in careful information processing. the rater may consider . Rewards An important determinant of almost any behavior is the attainment of valued rewards (Kanfer. An overview of the model of rater motivation in the performance appraisal context is provided in Figure 1..g. In turn. Collectively.. making accurate ratings or providing feedback to subordinates will be directly rewarded by the organization. 20. Much of this section. such as raises and promotions. raters are likely to consider the possibility of receiving extrinsic rewards. the rater may make ratings of. therefore.

respondents generally felt that the primary result would be “nothing. for example. This is likely to be particularly true for making accurate ratings. in other words. raises. Some raters.. Friedman & LeVino. providing feedback that leads to improved employee performance may result in improved unit performance. Alternatively. albeit somewhat overlapping. The limited field research addressing rewards for doing performance appraisals portrays a dismal picture.g.. may result in increased esteem and recognition from subordinates or supervisors. may find engaging in performance appraisal activities to be inherently satisfying. employee appreciation) for providing both negative and positive feedback to employees. Providing helpful feedback to subordinates. As discussed later. For instance. some organizations may encourage managers to give feedback to subordinates (e. this could lead to higher pay increases or promotions for the manager. extrinsic rewards for engaging in performance appraisal activities may be few and infrequent (Murphy & Cleveland. greater perceived rewards for giving feedback to employees. categories: . then. Other than employee dismay (in the case of negative feedback) and employee appreciation (in the case of positive feedback).” In practice. 1991). There are a number of negative consequences that are associated with performance appraisal activities. 1984). promotions. In turn. There may be. the direct. These may be organized into five. however.g. a rater may value attainment of intrinsic rewards from engaging in performance appraisal activities. Negative Consequences A second determinant of rater motivation in the performance appraisal context is the avoidance of negative consequences.whether engaging in performance appraisal activities will indirectly result in achievement of rewards. Napier and Latham (1986) examined managers’ expected outcomes (e.

In the present context. JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT. Similarly. Kanfer. time spent on performance appraisal activities may be viewed by the organization and appraiser as detracting from other. and interference with other tasks. In particular.g. criticism from the rater’s subordinate. Although rare in practice (Bernardin & Villanova. 1987). 1994 RATER MOTIVATION 741 Many researchers have commented on the potential for performance appraisal activities to negatively affect supervisor-subordinate relationships (e.. Recent writing on motivation (e. more important. VOL. demoralization of employees. tasks (Heneman et al.. 1991). 1986). Murphy & Cleveland.e. 1990.. 4.. particularly when the ratings or feedback are negative (Murphy 8z Cleveland. there is at least one negative consequence of engaging in performance appraisal activities: interference with other tasks. 20. This would be particularly true when the appraiser has limited time . In addition to the many negative consequences associated with making accurate ratings and giving feedback. 1990) has postulated that individuals consider the importance of competing goals and outcomes in determining which activities to engage in. criticism from the rater’s supervisor. Lawler. 1991). NO.g.damage to subordinate-supervisor relationships.. lower than the employee expects) performance ratings or giving negative performance feedback will hurt their relationship with the subordinate. most managers have a myriad of job responsibilities beyond performance appraisal. Possible subordinate criticism of feedback and ratings is also a frequently voiced concern by managers. a frequently encountered fear on the part of raters is that making accurate ratings or providing feedback will demoralize rather than motivate the employee (Longenecker et al. 1989). one’s supervisor may also criticize performance ratings. a common concern expressed by managers is that making accurate (i.

raters are likely to have different . in turn. 1987).availability. while an appraiser may wish to engage in performance appraisal activities. 4. 1989).g. Moreover. 1991). Thus. lack of time was regarded by supervisors as a major reason for inaccuracy. NO. the rater may believe the mere fact an employee is working there indicates the individual is minimally satisfactory. Beginning with self-impression management. Impression Management Concerns Concern for impression management is the third determinant of rater motivation. Wayne & Ferris. 20. 1991). First. which may in turn affect motivation to inflate ratings (Murphy & Cleveland.. Impression management activities can. observed that the behavior evinced by a supervisor giving feedback may be more influenced by how their behavior will look to their superiors than by the anticipated effect on the subordinate. In accord with this image. other work-related tasks often take priority. 1991. 1990. Second. VOL. 1994 742 HARRIS a positive image of the organization. there are at least three aspects related to rater motivation. for example. Gardner & Martinko. A recent survey by Bernardin and Villanova (1986) revealed that a common characteristic of the performance appraiser’s role was inadequate time to devote to this task. 1988). Impression management activities are ubiquitous in the workplace (Ferris & Judge. Ferris and Judge. Although most of the writing regarding this construct in the performance appraisal situation has been directed towards subordinate behavior (e. a rater may wish to maintain JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT. be broken down into two components: self-impression management and management of others’ impressions (Zerbe & Paulhus. Wayne & Kacmar. a manager may be more likely to perceive him/her self to be a successful manager if subordinates are rated highly. Third. researchers have also acknowledged that raters engage in impression management activities (Villanova & Bernardin.

1992). with regard to giving feedback. 1992. Nevertheless. 1989). careful feedback or make highly accurate ratings. some raters may believe that part of their role is to provide continuous. That is. raters may behave far differently from raters who have a different perception of their role. a rater who is considering giving relatively low ratings may feel that his or her competence as a manager will be questioned by superiors (Murphy & Cleveland. 1988) and as being effective in providing rewards to subordinates. For the most part. ratings. observation. Finally. In particular. Thus. and therefore inaccurate. as opposed to information processing activities (e.. it appears to be a potentially important factor here. a rater may wish to maintain an appropriate image vis-a-vis his or her subordinates. some organizations have norms that reinforce the giving of feedback (Larson. With regard to managing others’ impressions of oneself. these factors appear to have the most direct effect on rating and feedback activities. Similarly. In short. 1991). Larson. To sum up. it is reasonable to expect that raters who are not motivated to give feedback or to make accurate ratings will not be motivated to engage in careful information processing (Hauenstein. recall. Factors Affecting Motivational Determinants A review of the performance appraisal and social psychological literatures .g. a rater may desire to be perceived as being fair (Greenberg. although impression management may be a complex construct.perceptions of their role as manager (Cleveland & Murphy. To maintain this self-impression. impression management strategies may encourage giving feedback. storage. For example. many organizations have norms that encourage giving high. Another consideration is adherence to organizational norms. 1984). and integration). three determinants are hypothesized to affect rater motivation in the performance appraisal context.

a brief general summary of the accountability principle is provided next. This is due. Second. due to the paucity of research. Before discussing each of these variables in greater detail. The variables included here are ones deemed most likely to affect rater motivation in this context. 20. some recent conceptual work in the performance appraisal context has encouraged further application of the accountability principle (Folger. however.. The reader will note that this construct is discussed at greater length here than the other factors. there are other variables (e. 1985). these variables may be categorized as either situational or personal factors. While accountability has received limited attention from human resource management (HRM) and organizational behavior (OB) JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT. 1992). VOL. accountability refers to the amount of social pressure to justify one’s judgments to others. 1990). and its specific effects depend on a number of factors. given what is currently known about performance appraisal. Situational Factors Accountability. As defined by Tetlock and Kim (1987).g. As shown in Figure 1. Konovsky & Cropanzano.revealed a number of variables that are likely to affect rater motivation. followed by a discussion of its application to rater motivation in the performance appraisal context. two points should be noted. 1994 RATER MOTIVATION 743 scholars (Klimoski & Inks. Accordingly.. First.g. Accountability is a complex variable. NO. Tetlock. Moreover. it is presumptuous at this time to speculate as to the order of importance of these various factors. 4. personality traits) that may affect rater motivation which are not discussed here. however. social psychologists have investigated the effects of accountability on rater motivation for a variety of judgments and decisions (e. more to its theoretical richness and complexity than to the presumed importance of accountability over other factors. When accountability is .

it is likely that perceived rewards. Tetlock & Boettger. However. Accordingly. 1988). In applying the accountability principle to the performance appraisal situation. 1985.. a distinctive difference between this context and the typical social psychological experiment is that there are at least two possible “audiences” here: the appraiser’s supervisor. accountability to one’s subordinates and accountability to one’s supervisor are discussed separately. 1985). under certain circumstances. 1986). 1990). who typically signs off on the appraisal form (Bernardin & Villanova. Tetlock. . Accountability to one k subordinates. and more accurate ratings are likely to result (Tetlock. 1989). Conversely. Moreover. raters typically have limited motivation and “generally prefer ‘least effort’ solutions: They simply adopt positions likely to gain the favor of those to whom they feel accountable” (Tetlock. the subordinate is likely to have a much different position from the appraiser. they will merely attempt to rationalize and justify their position (Tetlock et al. The exception to this latter finding is that when raters feel committed to a particular rating. Specifically. Skitka & Boettger. work indicating that the purpose of performance ratings affects leniency (Bernardin & Villanova. According to Tetlock and his colleagues (Tetlock.” much more careful information processing will be used.high. 1985: 310). and the subordinate (Klimoski & Inks. when the rater is not clear what the most acceptable position or rating is for the “audience. and impression management concerns are also higher. Given that self-ratings are generally inflated (Harris & Schaubroeck. 1989. the rater’s supervisor may have no position about the ratee. raters will be more motivated to carefully consider their judgments. 1989). appraisers’ concerns about adversely affecting subordinates’ motivation and supervisorsubordinate relationships suggest that this “audience” is often deemed a potent force to whom the appraiser is accountable. As observed earlier. costs.

1986) may be an effect of accountability to one’s subordinates (Klimoski 8z Inks. . 20. the written documentation] will take on an overly negative tone. or rate accurately (and presumably lower than the appraisee would like).e. On the one hand. when motivation to rate accurately is low (i. causes the manager to exert more care in the evaluation” (p. 4. the . 1990).” (1987: 185). . the review [i... a reasonable explanation is that if the rater is intending to deflate the ratings. it is hypothesized that increased accountability to subordinates will typically decrease rater motivation to make accurate ratings.. the rater intends to inflate the ratings). and observed that: “having to face the worker . With regard to performance appraisal information processing activities. the motivation will be to provide inflated ratings. 182). For instance. For example.e. . 182). Thus. . . p. one executive is quoted in Longenecker et al. NO. one of the executives in Longenecker et a1. Generally.” (1987. one would expect lower motivation to engage in information processing. . 1994 744 HARRIS assessment and create a permanent record will cause people not to be as honest or as accurate as they should be. as saying: “once a manager has made up his or her mind that an employee isn’t going to make it. as suggested by Tetlock (1985). 189).. In certain circumstances. some raters may be motivated to provide deflated ratings. Schmitt and Klimoski asserted that “Accountability appears to increase the care and rigorousness with which an evaluation is made” (I 99 1. While these statements seem to conflict with the perspectives advanced here. an argument may be made for either increased or decreased motivation when accountability to subordinates is high. . On the other hand. p. Motivation to make accurate ratings is likely to be negatively affected by increased accountability to subordinates. however.s’ study observed that “*tlhe mere fact that you have to write out your JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT.. VOL. The appraisal process becomes downwardly biased.

rater will be motivated to obtain as much information as possible. salaries at state universities are generally publicly available). 1978).. provided to the appraisee anonymously.. 4. the more employees exchange information with one another and the more readily available pertinent information is (e. A third factor concerns the perceived likelihood that subordinates will file a grievance or dispute the ratings. which should serve to increase accountability to the subordinate. it is appropriate to hypothesize as to which factors might increase accountability to this audience. For example.g. perhaps this strategy will be used when the rater is attempting to justify his or her position. the performance ratings may never be seen by the subordinates (e. One factor is the confidentiality of the ratings (DeCotiis & Petit. NO. appraisers experience little accountability to the . if the ratings are for research purposes only). there has been practically no consideration in the literature as to the effect of this “audience” on performance appraisal practices. That is. and will be prepared to produce that evidence as needed. As noted by Bernardin and Villanova. the more accountable the appraiser will become. 1989). The less confidential the ratings. Alternatively. “A supervisor’s boss rarely disagrees *with the ratings+” (1986. or given by the appraiser in a faceto-face setting (Klimoski & Inks. 5 1). the more accountable the appraiser is likely to be to the subordinates. 1994 RATER MOTIVATION 745 This suggests that in practice. some companies have formal grievance procedures that enable subordinates to protest a low rating (Bernardin & Beatty. Although the appraiser’s supervisor usually must authorize the final ratings (Bernardin & Villanova. A second likely determinant of accountability to the appraisees is the visibility of the ratings among the employees (Padgett. 1984). 20. Accountability to one’s supervisor. JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT. 1986). p. Given that accountability to one’s subordinates seems to play an important role in appraiser motivation.g. VOL. 1990).

. Organizational human resource management strategy. In perhaps the most comprehensive analysis of business strategy. Of course. one’s subordinate and one’s supervisor). Butler. There are.e. and the supervisor’s position regarding the ratee is unknown.e.. which would then reduce the appraiser’s motivation to engage in careful information processing and make accurate ratings. and possibly additional (i. How a rater deals with conflicting “audiences” and justifies subsequent ratings and feedback is an interesting topic for future research.. Kerr (1985) identified diversification process to be a major determinant of managerial appraisal and reward systems. it is hypothesized that rater motivation to engage in performance appraisal information processing and make accurate ratings will be relatively high. 1991). Given that the performance appraisal process potentially involves at least two (i. A number of HRM and OB scholars have addressed the linkages between business and HRM strategy and performance appraisal procedures (e.” a rater may have to balance different pressures. One factor is the extent to which the supervisor is perceived to carefully review the ratings..g. particularly relative to the accountability felt to the subordinates. and HRM policies and practices. Among the differences between these archetypes was the emphasis on internal staffing. two factors that might increase an appraiser’s accountability to his or her supervisor.supervisor. the HRM department or a grievance review board) “audiences. A second factor is the estimated likelihood that the supervisor will challenge a particular rating. the . with certain types of organizations placing heavy emphasis (i. Ferris & Napier. the rater may believe his or her supervisor has a particular position about the ratee. HRM strategy. however.e. Sonnenfeld and Peiperl (1988) articulated four organizational archetypes. Assuming that accountability to one’s supervisor is high.

4. and effective performance evaluation and feedback mechanisms are a necessary component (Hall. 20. 1986). Accordingly.e. the baseball club) placing little or no emphasis on such practices. it is predicted that the more the supervisor’s pay and promotions are linked to the success of the subordinates (outcome dependence). who may be able to retaliate by decreasing their performance. Organizations which attach a high priority to internal staffing must have the requisite training and development programs in order to succeed. it seems likely that motivation to rate accurately would be lower under conditions of high task and outcome dependence. Hence. Task and outcome dependence.. it seems reasonable to expect that task and outcome dependence will increase careful information processing. Larson (1984) proposed that task and outcome dependence were important determinants of whether the rater provided feedback to a subordinate. Similarly. there has been practically no speculation as to the effects of task and outcome dependence on the motivation to make accurate ratings. 1984). VOL. JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT. It would appear that greater task and outcome dependence will increase the rater’s concern that low ratings will be negatively received by subordinates. It is hypothesized here that the greater the degree to which the supervisor’s work outcomes are dependent on the subordinates (task dependence). the greater the rewards associated with giving feedback. NO. it is hypothesized that organizations which emphasize internal staffing will be more likely to reward performance appraisal activities than organizations which do not emphasize internal staffing. 1994 746 HARRIS Although there has been research support for the link between task and outcome dependence and feedback (Larson. Further . the greater the rewards for giving feedback. Likewise.academy) and other types of organizations (i.

First.g. In turn. this appears to be due to the lack of support with regard to ability to rate accurately. forms which appear difficult to understand or to require a great deal of work to complete are likely to be seen as taking much time. As defined by Bernardin and Beatty (1984). Research has shown that low trust in the system is related to rating leniency (Bernardin. DeCotiis (1977). difficulty in understanding (DeCotiis & Petit. Two predictions are made with regard to the effects of rating forms on appraiser motivation. is hypothesized to reduce motivation to rate accurately. however. Landy & Farr. has shown that appraisers express different reactions to alternative rating forms. a negative consequence. 1985) is needed to empirically examine this possibility. found that police sergeants preferred a trait scale over a behaviorally anchored rating scale (BARS). Although many researchers have called for a moratorium on studies concerning forms (e. this will detract from other job responsibilities.research in settings where raters and ratees interact together on an ongoing basis (Ilgen & Favero. Low trust in the system. That is. the perceived complexity. Wiersma and Latham (1986) found that managers preferred a behavioral observation scale (BOS) over both a trait scale and a BARS approach. Empirical research. Orban & Carlyle. Trust in the system. 1981). It seems likely that low trust in the system will increase the negative consequences associated with rating accuracy. therefore. Trust in the performance appraisal system is likely to affect rater motivation. Performance appraisalforms. 1978) and length of the forms is likely to affect rater motivation.. for example. Some support for the nature of the forms being an important issue is provided by Bernardin and . trust in the performance appraisal system refers to the extent to which appraisers and subordinates believe that performance data will be used fairly and objectively. 1980).

20. a form requiring extensive documentation might increase perceptions regarding distraction from other work-related tasks. According to most models of the performance appraisal process (Feldman. appraisers make ratings on the basis of little information (DeNisi & Williams. 4. the rater eventually categorizes a ratee into a schema. p.g. Personal Factors Amount of information. this type of form may increase likelihood of supervisor or subordinate criticism if the rater does not engage in the necessary information processing activities. Second. NO. Bernardin and Beatty (1984) noted that supervisor resistance to using the system required by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 stemmed in part from the amount of time required to complete the form. There is evidence from several sources that the amount of information a rater has will affect motivation.. Similarly.Beatty (1984) who noted that the critical incidents format introduced by Flanagan and Burns (1955) was eliminated because “*floremen apparently did not want to take the time to record incidents” (Bernardin & Beatty. and therefore decrease motivation to engage in performance appraisal activities. 198 I). critical incidents forms generally would require far more documentation than graphic rating scales. As suggested by Hauenstein (1992) forms that do not require much justification for the ratings are likely to reduce motivation to engage in extensive information processing. forms may differ with regard to how much documentation they require. Chaiken and her colleagues (e. 1984. That is. Maheswaran & Chaiken. which in turn would increase rater motivation. 1988). JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT. Conversely. In fact. 1991) found that decision makers will be motivated to engage in information processing until they feel they have . For instance. 1994 RATER MOTIVATION 141 It should be noted that these two predictions might produce conflicting forces. VOL. 82).

including the information processing steps. and will be concerned about making a mistake.e. Similarly. Thus. Self-efficacy. mood). Among the findings is that raters in a positive mood more readily recall positive information. it is hypothesized that self-efficacy will affect motivation in each aspect of the performance appraisal process. this should adversely affect motivation to give feedback to subordinates. motivation to engage in information processing will decrease. More specifically. should be addressed by future researchers. Although there has been almost no research. lower self-efficacy will be associated with decreased rater motivation in the performance appraisal context. Fried. Pratt0 & Bargh. Bernardin and Beatty (1984) discussed the role of rater self-efficacy in providing feedback. subordinates for whom they have limited information. Social psychological research has demonstrated several interesting effects of mood on judgment processes. see Spielman.. In the present context.g. Mood. or make ratings of.. it likely that the rater will not have formed a particular position about the appraisee. Whether there is a general self-efficacy regarding the performance appraisal context. There is a growing literature in social psychology regarding the effects of affect on a variety of judgments (e. there are several different components to affect. Tiegs. for a review). and exhibit greater integration .sufficient information to make an accurate judgment.. 1988. ranging from simple reactions to specific stimuli (i. It seems likely that self-efficacy will affect other aspects of the performance appraisal process as well. Once the rater believes enough information has been obtained. Thus.. In turn. it is the latter type of affect that seems most closely related to motivation. liking) to generalized feeling states (i.e. or self-efficacy varies from behavior to behavior in the performance appraisal context. As described by Spielman et al. and Bellamy (1992) found that supervisors were less likely to provide feedback to. given insufficient amounts of information.

1985). or a quick. 1986. heuristic-based approach (hereafter referred to as nondeliberate .. Bless & Bohner. 1990. storage. Similar effects have been replicated in the performance appraisal context. A number of possible explanations have been offered for the effects of mood. In keeping with the model of performance appraisal described much earlier. Petty & Cacioppo. for example. analytic approach (hereafter referred to as deliberate processing). 1991). empirical research indicates that decision makers who are slightly depressed engage in more thorough and careful information processing. liking for particular ratees) are related to rater motivation is unclear at this time.g. 1992. this section considers the potential effects of rater motivation. Mitchell & Beach. have postulated the existence of two quite different information processing strategies. Performance Appraisal Behaviors Overview. retrieval. Sinclair (1988) found that slightly depressed raters were more accurate in their ratings than other raters. decision makers who are elated are likely to use much JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT. 1980. rating. Effects of Rater Motivation on Performance Appraisal Behaviors This section of the paper suggests various aspects of the appraisal process that might be affected by rater motivation.of diverse information (Isen. Several social psychological theorists have suggested that motivation affects the type of information processing used by the rater (Chaiken. 1990). 1990). Schwarz. These theorists. 1987). 4. Whether other aspects of affect (e. 1990. 20. Tesser & Shaffer. as well as others (e. 1994 748 HARRIS more superficial information processing and judgment procedures (Forgas. or lack thereof. and feedback steps. NO. Fiske & Neuberg. one of the most plausible is that mood serves as a motivator (Schwarz.g. VOL. integration. Tetlock. at this point in time. researchers have argued that a rater may use a very thorough.. However. Specifically. on observation.

attention is focused on highly salient characteristics of the individual.. more information will be attended to by the rater (Murphy & Cleveland. many of the propositions offered by Feldman regarding the performance appraisal process are consistent with the distinction between deliberate and nondeliberate information processing. 1994 RATER MOTIVATION 149 Rater motivation is also likely to affect whether the appraiser will attempt to confirm initial impressions or seek out additional relevant information. while nonmotivated raters will be more likely to use nondeliberate processing. VOL. Research suggests that the more motivated the rater. In a simulated interview study. in nondeliberate processing. In the performance appraisal context. such as gender and race. Feldman (1981) made a similar distinction between controlled and automatic processing. The remainder of this section discusses implications of this general proposition at each step of the performance appraisal process. Neuberg. 1987. the general proposition here is that motivated raters will be more likely to use deliberate processing. 1991).g. Neuberg found that motivated raters asked more . In the first step. NO. That is. Observation. rather than merely attempt to confirm initial impressions (Higgins & Bargh. 1983b). the more likely the rater is to seek out additional information.processing) to judgment and decision-making. It seems likely that motivation will affect the amount of information and detail observed by the appraiser. 1990) have criticized several of the assumptions regarding the distinction between controlled and automatic processing. Lord & Maher. the appraiser must recognize and attend to relevant behavior and information concerning the appraisee. Under deliberate processing. and fewer details and less information will be attended to by the appraiser (Ilgen & Feldman. 20. JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT. 1983). Tetlock. 4. Although recent scholars (e. 1989. Hence.

than nonmotivated raters. (1990) found that subjects in the high saliency condition correctly recalled more information. the appraiser must categorize and store relevant information into schemata. The implications of this are described in subsequent steps.. Williams and DeNisi and their colleagues (DeNisi & Williams. however. As noted above. Cafferty & DeNisi. 1985. As observed by Ilgen and Feldman (1983).’ on information processing and rating.g. Furthermore.questions. which contain basic schemata. In the retrieval stage. it is assumed that information is stored in bins. Given that salience and motivation are probably related constructs. Blencoe & Cafferty. In the second step of the performance appraisal task. Williams. Williams. it seems that rater motivation will affect the amount and type of information observed and sought. Storage. the most recently used bins are more likely to be accessed by the appraiser). the appraiser must recall stored information about the appraisee. categories in memory. Similarly. Retrieval. it is generally assumed that various biases exist which affect the recall of information (e. 1990) have considered the effects of performance appraisal salience. 1983). Williams et al. Among the relevant findings was that raters in the high salience condition made greater use of person. 1988. Other research suggests that motivated raters may use different storage arrangements. Thus. rather than specific details of behavior. More specifically. Research by Tetlock (1983a) suggests that rater motivation affects the likelihood information will be stored in long-term memory. DeNisi. and the questions they asked were of better quality. some of these findings may be pertinent here. motivated appraisers are predicted to retrieve more . Thus. rather than task. conscientious appraisers may be more careful in scrutinizing their memory. It is also believed that a fairly brief examination of memory is ordinarily conducted by the appraiser (Ilgen & Feldman.

Rater motivation. 1980. 1989). and more complex decision processes are used (Tetlock & Kim. is hypothesized to affect the likelihood that recategorization will occur when appropriate. JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT. rater motivation is likely to affect the thoroughness of the integration process. 1987. NO. Tetlock and his associates found that rater motivation is likely to affect such things as whether the recency effect occurs. contradictory information is integrated. A number of researchers in social psychology have found that low motivation results in simplistic decision-making and integration processes. As noted above. Tetlock & Boettger.g. the cognitive model proposes that an appraisee may be placed into a different schemata. other research would suggest the possibility of increased halo. . highly motivated raters may be apt to make . therefore. in response to changing evidence” (Tetlock. 319). 1983) Fiske and Neuberg (1990) asserted that rater motivation affects whether recategorization will occur when appropriate. Despite the above assertion that motivated raters are less likely to be affected by rating biases. when new information seriously challenges the prior schemata for an appraisee. Although little is known about the process of recategorization (Ilgen & Feldman. Petty & Cacioppo.information from memory than nonmotivated appraisers. and increased influence of rating biases (e. 1985. That is. 4. Tetlock thus concluded that increased motivation leads raters to be more “willing to revise initial impressions . VOL. .. p. Tetlock (1983b) reported empirical evidence to support this contention wherein initial impression bias was less likely to occur for motivated raters than for unmotivated raters. 20. on occasion. A second issue in the retrieval stage concerns recategorization. Thus. Chaiken. 1986). The appraiser must in some fashion integrate the available information in preparation for forming a position regarding the ratee or making formal ratings. 1994 750 HARRIS Integration.

It is. below.g. Wexley and Klimoski (1984) concluded that: “most research to date *on feedback+ does not reflect the true complexities of organizational reality” (p.. therefore. most of the writing on rater motivation in the performance appraisal context has focused on the rating stage. the effect of rater motivation on accuracy may be an indirect (e. 1989). In turn. rating inaccuracy may not simply be due to limited motivation to rate accurately. somewhat premature to hypothesize ..g. low motivation to rate accurately may also affect earlier information processing steps.g. use of person categories facilitates development of general impressions. 1989). managerial style) and employee characteristics (e. which would result in increased halo (DeNisi & Williams. 1988: 143). Kane & Lawler. 1986. at times inflating and on other occasions deflating the assigned ratings (Villanova & Bernardin. Aside from work by Larson (Larson. 1984. rather than a direct. Moreover. halo does not necessarily produce greater inaccurae (Murphy & Balzer. Precisely what the effects of providing rewards to raters will be on rating accuracy is unclear. Their increased accuracy was due to superior information processing.. based on a thorough review of potential moderators of feedback approaches. Neuberg (1989). Thus. through superior information processing). or at average levels). Feedback. for example. Rating. found that interviewers who were motivated to be accurate still demonstrated cognitive biases. as Hauenstein (1992) has shown. 1978). Wexley and Klimoski argued that the most effective feedback strategy probably depends on such things as the rater’s characteristics (e. whether the employee was performing above..g.greater use of person categorization. The typical assumption is that an appraiser consciously and deliberately chooses to be inaccurate (e. 67). Thus. As noted earlier. 1989) there has been little writing that addresses motivation to give feedback. Thus. However. effect. However.

First. 1989). accurate. Second. and others. Barnes & Murphy. Accordingly. Appraisee reactions. These are discussed next. Giles & Mossholder. appraiser motivation is likely to affect whether a performance appraisal form is completed (Fried et al. research by Folger and Konovsky (1989) and Greenberg (1986) has indicated that the performance appraisal process (e. Third.g. it is likely that appraiser motivation will affect the time and energy spent preparing for feedback sessions. Ratee reactions are a frequently employed indicator of performance appraisal system effectiveness (e. 4.. 1994 RATER MOTIVATION 751 Other Consequences of Appraiser Motivation In addition to its effects on various steps in the performance appraisal process. and decreased specificity (Larson.g. 1990. JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT. 20. the more likely the appraiser will seek out performance-related information from a variety of sources. the more motivated the appraiser is. 1978).. in accord with Neuberg (1989). customers. and specific feedback than a nonmotivated rater.. whether the appraiser was familiar with the appraisee’s . Dipboye & de Pontbriand. it is hypothesized that a motivated rater will be more likely to provide timely. research has indicated that raters who are reluctant to provide feedback use a number of strategies. First. Appraiser behavior. Nevertheless. appraiser motivation is likely to have several other consequences. Finally. including peers. and there are several reasons to believe that rater motivation will increase employee satisfaction with the performance appraisal system. Landy. A number of other appraiser behaviors may be affected by motivation. including delay in giving feedback (Benedict & Levine. VOL. 1986). 1988) distortion of feedback (Larson.as to the effects of rater motivation on provision of feedback. 1992). NO. 1981. it seems plausible that motivated raters will be more likely to maintain a diary of subordinates’ behavior.

the role of the subordinate. issues pertaining to types of motivation. which in turn will improve appraisee reactions to the appraisal system. 1990). it seems likely that higher rater motivation to engage in performance appraisal activities will result in superior procedural justice perceptions. While there has been some discussion of the former type in the literature. timely. these two types JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT. and so forth. Motivation to Do What? Most writers in this area have focused on lack of motivation to be accurate as a kind of unwillingness to be accurate. Additional Research Issues In addition to the many hypotheses offered above. the thoroughness with which this information is processed.. Second. NO. Rather than forming two ends of a continuum. 4. In specific. empirical research is needed on both types.g. VOL. Hence. 1994 752 HARRIS of low motivation appear to be qualitatively different. assuming that rater motivation will lead to more specific. it is hypothesized that higher rater motivation will result in greater employee satisfaction with the appraisal process. subordinates should also be more satisfied with the performance appraisal session (Giles & Mossholder. which is most likely caused by a lack of any rewards.work) is separate from performance appraisal outcomes (e. 20. An alternative possibility is that a rater is uninterested in being accurate. and would appear to have different consequences. and accurate feedback. size of one’s raise) and both of these constructs play a role in ratee reactions to the system. several basic research issues related to the model should be considered as well. and the relationship between appraiser motivation and other constructs are examined in further detail next. Given that appraiser motivation is hypothesized to increase the amount of information gathered and recalled. .

some of the parameters of the model should remain constant for a particular rater. In particular. while other parameters may differ. different motivational factors may result in different observation. depending on the subordinate. however. The issue of stability across subordinates is particularly critical for measurement purposes. Empirical research on this issue is sorely needed. that different determinants will motivate different behaviors. Role of Subordinate In Appraiser Motivation An important question regarding this model is the effect of the subordinate. It seems quite likely. it remains to be seen whether rater motivation will vary from subordinate to subordinate. storage. That is.A related issue is whether different sources of rater motivation will encourage different types of information processing. For example. and integration processes. rewards vs. For example.g. this would suggest the need to measure motivation separately for each supervisor’s ratees. One subordinate-related variable that might be particularly important here is overall performance. The implicit assumption of this paper is that different determinants (e. . impression management concerns) will have similar effects on performance appraisal activities. Logically. raters who are primarily motivated by intrinsic rewards may seek information that will be helpful for subordinates’career development. subordinates who are doing either very well or very poorly may induce much different levels or types of motivation than an employee who is performing at an average level. Thus. raters who perceive they will be rewarded for being accurate may seek to obtain information that will help rank order their subordinates. a rater may believe one appraisee is more likely to complain than another appraisee. and therefore experiences a different motivation level for these two appraisees. if the parameters of the model differ from subordinate to subordinate. recall..

even though their . that raters may provide quite helpful feedback to subordinates.Relationship Between Antecedents of Appraiser Motivation and Other Constructs In addition to testing the many hypotheses outlined in this paper. 20. VOL. for example. 1994 RATER MOTIVATION 753 Conclusions A number of researchers have recently suggested that rater motivation is a key factor in understanding performance appraisal issues. such as appraiser ability. but other stages of the performance appraisal task as well. p. which would in turn increase motivation. for instance. Murphy and Cleveland argued that “Raters do not fail to give accurate ratings because they are incapable of accuracy but rather because they are unwilling to rate accurately”( 199 1. 1987). This model also points to the need to more fully understand raters’ feedback-giving activities. 209). and the issues raised here would also suggest a multiplicative relationship in the performance appraisal context. It is possible. p. Researchers have assumed that motivation and ability form a multiplicative relationship (Steers & Porter. It seems possible that a well-designed training program could improve such variables as rater self-efficacy. JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT. As suggested by Neuberg and Fiske (1987). and differs from previous work by emphasizing not only the rating stage. 4. Researchers should also explore the effect of such variables as training on rater motivation. there is a need to assess the relationship between appraiser motivation and other constructs. asserted that lack of rater motivation “may account for the greatest amount of variance in the quality of data” (1991. The present paper provides a model of the antecedents and outcomes of rater motivation. 189). lack of rater knowledge or skill would prevent even motivated raters from being accurate. Schmitt and Klimoski. NO.

the model has a number of practical implications for improving rating processes in organizations. Delay and distortion: Tacit influences on performance appraisal effectiveness. (1988). growth. J. I distinguish here between ratings. H. Boston.ratings are not accurate. James Breaugh. Although at times it may be difficult to distinguish between information provided for evaluative purposes and information provided for developmental and growth purposes. (1981).A. (1985). & Carlyle. Notes 1. K. E. Performance rating as a function of trust in appraisal . References Banks. John Bernardin. 73: 507-514. and feedback. & Beatty. Bernardin. Benedict. Acknowledgment: The author thanks H. & Murphy. Personnel Psychology. and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. or both.L. Orban. H. 1985).G. C. Finally. R. which will be defined as information with a developmental. MA: PWS-Kent. Ratings and feedback may be provided in a written medium. More work concerning rater motivation may help bridge the gap between practice and research in the performance appraisal area (Banks & Murphy. Journal of Applied Psychology. Karen Maher. & Levine.R.J. M.J.E. Toward narrowing the research-practice gap in performance appraisal. Bernardin. this appears to be the important difference between ratings and feedback..W. or motivational purpose. 1984. 38: 335-345. oral medium. which will be defined as information with an evaluative purpose. J.J. Dennis Dossett. Performance appraisal: Assessing human behavior at work.

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