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Achieving focused management activities through formal performance evaluation: results from a field study.

Periodic performance evaluations are multipurpose tools for management control. Some of the benefits attributed to properly conceived and executed evaluations are: (1) accurate measurement and judging of performance; (2) bringing individual performance in harmony with organizational goals; (3) fostering the growth of the subordinate; (4) motivating desired behavior; (5) improving communication between superiors and subordinates; (6) serving as an objective basis for salary and incentive compensation, and (7) aiding in the strategic thrust of the firm (e.g., Levinson, 1970; Locke and Latham, 1990; Mount and Thompson, 1987; Stonich, 1984). This study addressed whether the existence of formal schemes for performance evaluation in eleven companies in North America was associated with the content and specificity of managers' descriptions of their regular activities. The positive answer indicates that another potential benefit of performance evaluation schemes is their influence in focusing managers' attention on specific tasks.

Numerous researchers have addressed the effectiveness of performance evaluations in eliciting desired behavior or achieving the benefits for the enterprise that are thought to accrue from such activities. It is generally agreed that accuracy and objectivity of performance ratings or evaluations yield superior outcomes for individuals and organizations (Landy and Farr, 1980; Mount and Thompson, 1987; Nathan and Alexander, 1985; Smith, 1986). Other researchers have tied the benefits of accuracy and objectivity to employee perceptions of these attributes (Dipboye and de Pontbriand, 1981; Fulk et al., 1985; Greenberg, 1986; Goodson and McGee, 1990).

A major body of research concerns the influence of employee participation in setting personal objectives for performance evaluation. It seems logical that the participation of employees would improve their motivation and understanding of corporate objectives and increase their acceptance of evaluations and the objectives. This would seem true particularly when goals are easily understood and communication between superior and subordinates is clear (Gehrman, 1984; Gibb, 1985; Locke et al., 1981). In the 1980s, the quality circle emerged as a popular participative technique, incorporating the idea that those closest to a job can best evaluate its problems. Studying one company, Buch and Spangler (1990) found that quality circle members received significantly better performance ratings and promotions than non-quality circle members did. Despite the intuitive appeal of these arguments, empirical evidence on this issue is not conclusive, and further research is necessary to understand the extraneous factors affecting the value of participation.

When companies evaluate employee performance, corporate objectives provide logical benchmarks by which to measure the performance. Yet there may be forces that interfere with the employees' striving to achieve the corporate objectives. Expectancy theory posits that the motivation to engage in certain behavior is a multiplicative function of a person's expectations about the probable results of that behavior and the degree to which the individual desires the results (Vroom, 1964). Thus, if an employee has expectations about the outcome of personal behavior that are incongruent with corporate objectives, these expectations may confound the company's use of these objectives as a measure of performance evaluation. Further difficulties arise when there are problems with measuring achievement of objectives accurately or communicating how employee efforts are expected to lead to achievement of corporate objectives (Jagacinski, 1991).

In the academic accounting literature, a body of research in budgetary control examines how over-emphasis on imperfect performance targets may generate dysfunctional consequences. Hopwood (1972), Otley (1978), and Hirst (1981) all studied accounting-based performance measures seeking to identify likely dysfunctional consequential behavior. Each found that such behavior may be most likely when the accounting-based measure does not fully reflect the manager's entire job and when excessive reliance is placed on achieving such targets.

Managers' descriptions of their tasks and activities should be specific for several reasons. First, evidence indicates that managers who know what is expected of them and how to perform to those expectations are more likely to be efficient than managers who are not aware (Meyer et al., 1965; Odiorne, 1990). Their efforts are more likely to be focused, and less unproductive effort is apt to be expended. Second, specific job descriptions allow an organization's designers and senior managers to identify redundancies and omissions in job responsibilities. They can thus help realize economies through modifications like changing task sizes, procedures, or the organizational structure. And third, if managers understand their tasks, management will have more control and can prevent failures of control systems. Planning is facilitated, as is the ability to design effective and meaningful information and performance measurement systems. Schneier et al. (1991) postulate that performance measurement is a requisite tool for strategy execution. They argue that clear objectivities tied to corporate strategy must be coupled with managerial accountability for these objectives to compete in changing business environments.

Performance measurement and evaluation should help managers improve their ability to describe their tasks and activities. If evaluations are conducted regularly, using a written evaluation that can be compared to previous ones, and if the results of the evaluations are shared and discussed, managers' understanding of what is expected should increase and their performance should reflect this understanding. Such well defined, regular performance evaluations are used in many companies. However, in other companies, performance evaluation is often done orally, irregularly, and casually, or managers' performance may not be evaluated at all. We believe managers in these companies miss the chance to use performance evaluation as a tool to sharpen subordinates' understanding of their jobs and responsibilities.

Despite the large body of research in aspects of performance evaluation concerning accuracy of measurement, employee participation, types of performance measurements and other areas, we are unaware of research that specifically links the formality of a performance evaluation scheme to managers' daily activities. We chose to study this issue through a field study examining the following research hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1: Managers in companies with well defined, regular performance evaluation schemes describe their daily activities in more specific, precise terms than managers in other companies.

Hypothesis 2: Managers in companies with well defined, regular performance evaluation schemes concentrate their daily activities on areas on which they are evaluated.

A positive answer to either hypothesis could provide evidence supporting the establishment of specific, objective schemes for performance evaluation. For formal performance evaluation to affect behavior, it should focus managers' efforts on those activities that relate to the accomplishment of objectives.


We addressed these issues as part of a large field study of how managers receive and use information to perform their daily tasks. We interviewed 71 managers in twelve manufacturing corporations in Canada and the United States. We chose companies for their location and accessibility, personal contacts, and expected willingness to help with the research. All companies surveyed were engaged in manufacturing, marketing, and distribution, and each was in one of three groups: heavy manufacturing of basic materials and products, high-technology manufacturing, and manufacturing of consumer-branded products. All but one of the corporations have sales in excess of $350 million, and all have a significant presence in their respective industries. Table 1 briefly describes the companies that took part in this study. We strove to limit the sample to manufacturing firms to keep some control over organizational diversity variables. Because of this, our findings about performance evaluation do not necessarily apply to other, nonmanufacturing industries like those in the service sector.

We initially contacted each company by a telephone call to a corporate contact known to us or our research sponsors. We stated the purpose of the research as studying managerial information use, described our procedures, and elicited a preliminary agreement to participate. We requested interviews with at least five senior managers, distributed among sales and marketing, production, and information-providing managers like controllers or information officers. We then set up visits to interview sites when the managers selected by each company contact would be available.
(In decreasing order of size)

Company Industry Number of Interviews

Alpha Computer Manufacturer 5(*)
Beta Oil Company 6
Gamma Branded Food Producer 10
Delta Chemical Company 8
Epsilon Steel Company 6
Zeta Telephone Systems Mfg 5
Eta Latex Plastics Producer 5
Theta Cable & Wire Mfg 5
Iota Branded Food Producer 6
Kappa Electronic Instruments Mfg 6
Lambda CAE/CAD Software Mfg 4
Mu Oil Filter Producer 5

* Excluded from this analysis. See text.

Before each interview, we sent each manager a letter explaining that we would be asking questions about the types of information they use in their daily activities. We said we would like, if possible, to take samples of any particularly valuable reports with us, but we would be interested in only the types of reports and data, not the confidential company information contained in them. We made no mention of performance evaluation in the letter.

Interviews were conducted on site, mostly in the interviewees' office. A structured questionnaire was the basis for all interviews. Although the interviews were structured, we gave managers considerable leeway to elaborate on our questions. Most interviews were about an hour long; the shortest lasted 40 minutes and the longest about 90 minutes. Each interview was taped and replayed later for summaries and details.

During the interviews, the managers were asked to choose about three of their daily or regular activities and to describe in detail what information they needed for each activity and how it was obtained. The interview focused on these activities; most of the descriptions took up more than haft of the interview. Near the end of the interview, managers were asked to describe the bases on which they were evaluated and whether they were eligible to receive incentive compensation. From their descriptions we could determine whether the procedures each company used in performance evaluation were uniform, and whether incentive compensation was based on evaluations. The managers were not asked to link in any way the performance evaluation scheme or incentive compensation to their selection of activities.

Table 2 summarizes the general features of the schemes for performance evaluation and incentive compensation as the interviewees described them. Five companies are classified as having very formal, explicit performance evaluation. Their evaluations are uniform in their application across the company. regular in their timing, and described consistently by managers in our study. While individual goals or objectives in these companies depend on the nature of the position, the process by which these objectives are set is standard and the types of rewards are consistent and well known. These companies are called "formal" in the table. Five companies encourage performance evaluation of managers but allow for significant leeway in the form it takes. Most managers in those firms described how they were evaluated, but there was no consistency from position to position or between functions or divisions in the company. These companies are labeled as "informal." Managers in the remaining two companies told us that there was no written evaluation of their performance. They are identified in Table 2 as "none."

Almost all of the managers interviewed had major responsibility for sales and marketing, production and manufacturing, or staff functions. The interviewees included fourteen corporate vice-presidents, four division presidents, four plant managers, and seven chief financial officers or controllers. Twenty-one managers were involved in marketing and sales activities. Production and manufacturing managers accounted for 27 interviews. The remaining 23 interviews consisted of seven general managers and sixteen information and financial managers. Time in the job, functions performed, and time with the companies confirmed that these were very experienced managers. We made no attempt to learn if they were effective managers, but most had been promoted to their present responsibilities after several years of experience in their company.


Tests of the First Hypothesis

We asked each manager to describe in his or her own words about three job activities they did daily or TABULAR DATA OMITTED regularly. No manager described fewer than two or more than four tasks (57 described three tasks). We told them to be careful to choose tasks that were representative of the basic nature of their position and its responsibilities.

Each of us independently scored the specificity or the task description on the following system:

1 = very vague description of task; general activity with no focus

2 = more specific description of activity but imprecise

3 = very specific description of activity, and supporting information

When we disagreed about the level of specificity, we resolved the disagreement by discussion and replay of the tapes. Final disagreement was unusual because our interview notes and tapes left little doubt about the descriptions. Nevertheless, our research results are obviously limited by the subjectivity of our scoring. All tasks were scored before we began analyzing the schemes for performance evaluation or incentive compensation.

An example will clarify how we scored the descriptions. A vice president of operations at Kappa Company described three activities: monitoring downtime of the machines, tracking progress on long-range projects, and attending to corporate responsibilities. The first task was scored 3 because the manager specifically described the sources of the data and the monitoring procedures. The second activity was scored 2 because it was not routine and relied on occasional memoranda and informal communications. The third activity was scored 1 because no specific activities were described and information was only sought as received or needed. The mean score for the specificity of this manager's tasks was 2; his score was averaged with the other managers in his firm for a corporate score. We replicated the study using medians rather than means, with no difference in results. We also checked to see if results would differ if individual scores were first determined before finding company scores. Because over 80 percent of the interviewees described exactly three tasks, there was no discernible difference.

In scoring the activity descriptions, we decided to exclude data collected from the five managers at Alpha Company from further analysis. All were high-level managers in marketing and sales, and during our interviews their functions were being changed from product-specific to customer-specific. Although they all described a well defined scheme for performance evaluation used in the past, the new functional structure was different enough to make it doubtful that prior performance evaluation would influence the descriptions of present activities. The major focus of all of their present activities was the restructuring project. Consequently, almost all the activities they described were vague, tentative, and incomplete because they were still struggling to define new functional and job-specific activities. The analysis reported hereafter is based on data collected from 66 managers in the eleven other corporations where we conducted interviews.

Mean scores may show general trends but fail to capture the distribution of focused to less focused tasks among the managers. The bar chart in Figure I displays these relationships. Each category of performance evaluation scheme has three bars showing the percentage of tasks in those firms that range from general to specific. For example, in companies with formal plans, 23 percent of the tasks described to us were categorized as general, while 42 percent were categorized as very specific. Analysis of the data for statistically significant differences between Groups 1 and 2 and Group 3 was not considered justified because there were only eleven managers in the third group. There was no statistical difference between the means of Groups 1 and 2 when tested using a t-test for two samples with unequal variances. (The t-statistic was .435 and the .05 alpha critical value was 2.07.) The scores of Zeta Company are responsible for the slightly lower overall mean for the second group. When Zeta is removed, the informal group mean is actually slightly higher than the formal group mean.

Table 3a shows the mean of specificity of task scores for managers at each of the corporations. These scores were calculated by taking the sum of scores for all activities described and dividing it by the number of activities described by all managers interviewed at that company. Higher scores denote greater specificity in descriptions of tasks and activities. The mean score for all managers in the performance evaluation group is calculated in the same way.

The data collected in the interviews offer some limited support to the conclusion that performance evaluation plans of some form help managers describe their activities more specifically, indicating more focus in their daily tasks. Data in Table 3a show no apparent differences in task description between corporations with well defined, formal schemes for performance evaluation and firms whose evaluations are more informal. But managers in eight of the nine corporations with performance evaluation schemes were more specific in describing their activities than managers in the two corporations with no apparent system for evaluating performance.

Variations in specificity scores according to job function were also observed, and mean scores for activity descriptions are shown in Table 3b. Differences in scores between job functions were not tested for statistical significance, given the low number of observations in the cells, but a general trend is evident in the numbers. General managers and production managers were more specific in describing their tasks than managers in marketing and sales, and staff and finance. This greater specificity may be inherent in the work performed in the function (defined and repetitive versus undefined and varied) or in the ease with which performance can be measured and evaluated, as we will discuss subsequently.




Gamma 1.23 Beta 1.32 Epsilon .63
Iota 1.11 Delta 1.08 Theta 1.00
Kappa 1.17 Zeta .71
Lambda 1.20 Eta 1.19
 Mu 1.37

Mean 1.18 Mean 1.13 Mean .80
Std.Dev. .63 Std.Dev. .65 Std.Dev. .51


Marketing/sales 1.31 (n=11) .96 (n=6) .75 (n=4)
Production 1.33 (n=9) 1.43 (n=8) .87 (n=5)
General Mgrs 1.56 (n=2) 1.38 (n=5) .00 (n=0)
Financial/staff .95 (n=9) .82 (n=9) .71 (n=2)

Incentive Compensation Based on Individual and Corporate Performance

Gamma 1.23
Lambda 1.20
Mu (none in last three years) 1.37

Incentive Compensation Based on Business-Unit Performance

Beta 1.32
Kappa 1.17

Incentive Compensation Based on Corporate Performance

Delta 1.08
Epsilon .63
Zeta .71
Eta 1.19
Iota 1.11

No Incentive Compensation

Theta 1.00

Finally, mean scores on task and activity specificity for corporations with individual or business-unit-based incentive compensation can be compared to those in companies with corporate performance-based schemes in Table 3c. These numbers show a trend toward job specificity in firms with incentive compensation bases on individual and business unit performance rather than corporate performance. However, the small sample and the subjectivity of these ratings preclude generalization to a larger population of firms without further research evidence.

Tests of the Second Hypothesis

We also analyzed the data by focusing on the nine firms with schemes for performance evaluation. Our interest was in addressing whether managers concentrated on those activities which were highly associated with the measurements on which they were evaluated.

For each manager, we compared each description of a task to the set of measurements or objectives the manager had listed as the basis for his or her evaluation. The relationship between each task and the objectives was categorized as high, medium, or low. For example, the distribution manager listing "decreasing truck turnaround time" as an objective also listed "tracking statistics on fill-rates" as a main activity. The relationship in this instance is high. If the task had been described as "monitoring daily operations at the warehouse," the relationship would be categorized as medium, for the connections are apparent but not precise. If the listed task had been "acting as liaison between sales and production" and this was not listed in his performance evaluation objectives, the task is categorized as having a low relationship to the objective. We did not use a "no relationship" category because of the difficulty of distinguishing between "low" and "no" relationships.

Figure II displays these categorizations for each of the two groups and for the groups combined. A chi-square test of differences between two independent samples rejects the hypothesis that the two groups come from the same population at the .01 alpha level with a test statistic of 10.78 with two degrees of freedom. We are unaware of prior research linking daily tasks to performance evaluation bases. It appears to us, however, that the percentages of correlated tasks to goals are quite high. Causality cannot be presumed without further analysis, but the association seems undeniable.

As the tasks were matched to the objectives, we also categorized the task-objective pairs as either (1) quantifiable in nature, (2) narrative or otherwise nonquantifiable, or (3) a mixture of both quantifiable and nonquantifiable qualities. Our aim was to address the commonly stated adage that "quantifiable objectives or factors frequently get more attention than or drive out so-called 'soft' factors." Table 4 presents a frequency table of tasks and their descriptions. A large number of the highly associated task-objective pairs were quantitative in nature, with very few having solely nonquantitative characteristics. These results were somewhat surprising because a large number of managers stated that they were evaluated on qualitative bases such as "how well I manage people." But, very few of these managers listed "managing people" as an important daily task. Similarly, those managers listing nonquantitative tasks like "managing people" generally stated more quantifiable objectives as their bases for performance evaluation. In total, 84 percent of the task-objective pairs were either quantitative or had a mix of quantitative and nonquantitative elements, lending some support to the theory that quantifiable factors may indeed dominate in evaluating and motivating performance.


Our findings appear to support the conclusion that a scheme for individual performance evaluation increases managers' specific understanding of their jobs and the specific tasks that comprise those jobs. Additional support is implied in that we found such schemes in various forms at ten of the twelve corporations we contacted, demonstrating that those organizations have concluded that performance evaluation schemes produce benefits that exceed the cost of developing, maintaining, and administering them.

Our sample is not large enough to draw a conclusion about how an incentive compensation scheme can best be used in conjunction with a performance evaluation scheme. Managers in only three corporations received incentive compensation based on their individual performance, and in one of those corporations the managers we interviewed had received no such payments recently. Despite the tendency for greater specificity in task descriptions in those three companies and two others where incentive compensation is based in part on business-unit performance, we can conclude only that more research is needed on how incentive compensation supports a performance evaluation scheme.


 Quantitative Mixed Non- Totals Percentage

High 54 13 3 70 43%
Average 18 23 9 50 30%
Low 6 23 15 44 27%

Totals 78 59 27 164
Percentage 48% 36% 16% 100%

Our research provides limited support for the hypothesis that well defined performance goals help to determine which activities managers engage in daily. The fairly high number of tasks directly associated with performance goals implies that managers' behavior may be strongly influenced by performance evaluation goals. These goals may lead them to engage in tasks whose successful completion will lead to rewards, whether monetary or otherwise. There is also some indication that tasks that can be quantifiably measured may dominate some daily activities because the ability to measure them enables the manager to be rewarded for tangible evidence of success. This has implications in circumstances where a focus on tangible, quantifiable tasks and measurements may not be in the best interests of the company or the successful performance of the specific job. Some jobs like marketing or research and development may best be performed by creative individuals whose creativity is not best judged through numerical measurements. Given the nature of different positions within a company, we chose to study this issue further by analyzing eleven individual members of our managers who exhibited very focused behavior and seven managers whose daily activities were very unspecific.

Focused Managers

Eleven managers described all their activities so specifically that their mean score was 3. These focused managers are easily classified into three groups: business-unit managers, plant managers, and logistics and manufacturing support managers. We analyzed these eleven interviews to determine what was more focused and specific than the other 60 managers we interviewed.

The business-unit managers and one plant manager all regard themselves as running an entire business and see themselves as profit centers. They establish their expectations in terms of revenue (shipments), expenses (costs), and profits for their unit. They have identified key indicators that determine their success, and they monitor these frequently--usually daily, often by walking around, and by personal contact with key subordinates. They monitor orders, units produced, shipments, backlogs, rejects, injuries, absences, downtime, competitive wage rates, material prices, and shortages, and they rely on systems and subordinates to notify them personally and immediately of changes, failures, or problems. The plant managers are similar. Their tasks are easily specified, and progress on plans, objectives, and expectations is easily and continually measured.

The logistics and manufacturing support managers are much like the focused plant managers. They are responsible for availability and delivery of material, conditions in plants, and shipment of product to customers. Their improvement usually is easily expressed--fewer stock-outs, reduced cost of material handling, lower cost of freight--and relates easily to things that can be monitored daily.

Not all business-unit, plant, or manufacturing support managers we interviewed were focused, and so it was not the job function alone that caused us to score them as we did. Instead we conclude that being able to express tasks, goals, and expectations clearly, in quantifiable terms that relate to specifics that can be monitored continually or frequently, focuses managers' descriptions and actions. Profit goals do that, as do production goals and their support.

By their absence from the group of focused managers, marketing and sales managers and staff and financial managers support this conclusion. Expectations of growth in sales, development of markets, development of a new financial control system, and project analysis are much less amendable to descriptions of what should be done today and how to proceed if what was done previously did not have the desired effect. Sales calls, client contacts, spending on advertising, or added staff may not influence performance immediately. Hence, performance evaluation schemes are more challenging to develop for managers where links between present actions and future desired results are unspecific.

Unfocused Managers

Seven managers were notable for their composite scores of 1, the lowest possible specificity of task description. These managers were from almost all functions represented by interviewees. What is notable is the high level of four of the managers, who were vice presidents in their firms. These four managers listed activities such as attending meetings, assessing and reviewing operations, general supervision of operations, and attending to transitions in the business. The VP of quality cited "attending to vision in quality attainment" as a major preoccupation. Perhaps their high organizational level explains their lack of specificity in describing their jobs, yet there is some evidence (e.g., Mintzberg, 1989, 1973; Kotter, 1982) that even senior managers spend most of their time on specific tasks rather than sitting around thinking great thoughts about strategy or vision.

On the Absence of Performance Evaluations

Considering the potential advantages of using performance evaluation schemes, we should perhaps be surprised that managers in two companies did not know whether such a scheme was in use. Our procedure does not allow us to say with certainty that managers are not evaluated in these companies. We relied only on the managers we interviewed to describe how their performance was evaluated, and they told us there was no performance evaluation. If they are evaluated but do not know it, presumably any positive benefits to them from these invisible evaluation schemes are lost.

The two corporations in which managers reported no evaluations are not new, small, or unsuccessful. They have been highly profitable in some past years, although both appear to be in a more competitive environment now. In these two companies, managers do not necessarily believe they are not evaluated. They know they must be. Salaries are adjusted periodically, and managers are moved to new positions. But they do not know the basis for these changes, nor does either corporation gain the benefit of a more explicit rationale for the changes.


Schemes for performance evaluation and incentive compensation have several purposes, one of which is to focus managers' attention on tasks that need to be done if expectations are to be achieved. Using interviews with 66 managers in eleven manufacturing companies, nine of which use performance evaluation schemes, we conclude that these schemes may make managers more specific in describing their work. The effects of incentive compensation schemes are less clear from our work, but further research on both types of schemes appears justifiable.

Well defined performance evaluation schemes may also have a direct effect on determining the types of daily activities managers perform. Although our research cannot attribute causality directly to corporate performance goals, we found a large association between managers' tasks and the goals on which they are evaluated, particularly in companies with very well defined plans. We also found that quantitatively oriented activities dominated the activities highly associated with performance evaluation goals. These findings imply that companies should carefully consider the nature of the goals used to evaluate managers so as to strike a proper balance between those that are quantifiable and those that are not. When nonquantifiable goals are deemed important to the company, more care needs to be taken to weigh these goals appropriately in the evaluation to avoid managers' concentrating on activities with easily quantifiable results.

This research is limited by the fact that only two companies in the study had no discernible performance evaluation schemes, by the subjectivity of the measurements of task specificity and task-goal association, and by the inherent limitations of any field research which, however large for its nature, necessitates a smaller sample than other methodologies. However, we believe that our study provides an important piece in the mosaic of experimental, empirical, and field research delving into the motivations of managers and the role of performance evaluation and incentives.

We designed this field study as an example of how field research can be rigorously applied, both in the large numbers of companies and managers involved and in the structured protocol followed in the interviews and later analyses. Yin (1989) notes that rigorous field studies must address four tests for research design: construct validity, internal validity, external validity, and reliability. To meet the test of external validity we chose to study managers and their use of information in twelve companies with similar characteristics. The choice of the same major functional areas within each of several firms incorporates a form of replication logic for multiple case studies involving cross case analysis of each company on a common theoretical base. To meet the test of reliability, demonstrating that the study can be repeated with the same results, we ensured that preparations for field visits and data collection were consistent. We prepared a protocol to guide field visits, including an interview protocol several pages in length, and the same field procedures were used in each company. Data on each interview and site visit were summarized in the same framework for later analysis. Every interview was tape recorded to allow careful summary and review. To ensure construct validity, we followed principles of data collection suggested by Yin, using multiple sources of evidence. In addition to interviews we collected documents, personal observations of managers and their surroundings, and impressions from plant tours. Every company file contains our site visit notes, documents, special items collected from particular managers, and field notes prepared immediately after each visit. Finally, in hopes of achieving internal validity--establishing a causal relationship whereby certain conditions are shown to lead to other conditions--we used pattern matching within the data from each company and within the same function across all companies.

We became convinced during the interviews that we were capturing truthful responses of managers that were representative of the larger population. We terminated the number of companies when we knew we were hearing the same themes and conclusions from our interviewees again and again. Future field research on performance evaluation and incentive compensation could look more closely at the issue of causality of performance evaluation goals and behavior, at the problems of quantitative versus qualitative measurement in certain functional areas, at the cost-benefit issues surrounding formal performance evaluations, and at potential differences between manufacturing companies and service companies.


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William J. Bruns, Jr. Professor of Business Administration Harvard University

Sharon M. McKinnon Professor of Business Administration Northeastern University
COPYRIGHT 1994 Pittsburg State University - Department of Economics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Bruns, William J., Jr.; McKinnon, Sharon M.
Publication:Journal of Managerial Issues
Date:Sep 22, 1994
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