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The Role of Performance Appraisals in Motivating Employees


  • Jurjen J.A. Kamphorst

    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

  • Otto H. Swank

    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)


In many organizations, reward decisions depend on subjective performance evaluations. However, evaluating an employee's performance is often difficult. In this paper, we develop a model in which the employee is uncertain about his own performance and about the manager's ability to assess him. The manager gives an employee a performance appraisal with a view of affecting the employee's self perception, and the employee's perception of the manager's ability to assess performance. We examine how performance appraisals affect the employee's future performance. The predictions of our model are consistent with various empirical findings. These comprise (i) the observation that managers tend to give positive appraisals, (ii) the finding that on average positive appraisals motivate more than negative appraisals, and (iii) the observation that the effects of appraisals depend on the employee's perception of the manager's ability to assess performance accurately.

Suggested Citation

  • Jurjen J.A. Kamphorst & Otto H. Swank, 2012. "The Role of Performance Appraisals in Motivating Employees," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 12-034/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20120034

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
    2. Prendergast, Canice & Topel, Robert H, 1996. "Favoritism in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 958-978, October.
    3. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1994. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1125-1156.
    4. Moers, Frank, 2005. "Discretion and bias in performance evaluation: the impact of diversity and subjectivity," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 67-80, January.
    5. James L. Medoff & Katharine G. Abraham, 1980. "Experience, Performance, and Earnings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 95(4), pages 703-736.
    6. Kahn, Charles & Huberman, Gur, 1988. "Two-sided Uncertainty and "Up-or-Out" Contracts," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(4), pages 423-444, October.
    7. Roland BĂ©nabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520.
    8. Prendergast, Canice & Topel, Robert, 1993. "Discretion and bias in performance evaluation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 355-365, April.
    9. Bengt Holmstrom, 1979. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 74-91, Spring.
    10. Prendergast, Canice, 1993. "A Theory of "Yes Men."," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 757-770, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Safa Riaz, 2016. "High Performance Work Systems and Organizational Performance: An Empirical Study on Manufacturing and Service Organizations in Pakistan," Public Organization Review, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 421-442, December.
    2. Delfgaauw, Josse & Souverijn, Michiel, 2016. "Biased supervision," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 107-125.
    3. Jan Tichem, 2013. "Leniency Bias in Long-Term Workplace Relationships," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-196/VII, Tinbergen Institute.

    More about this item


    Subjective Performance Appraisal; Credibility; Cheap Talk;

    JEL classification:

    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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