Printer Friendly

Rhetoric and the design of schemes.

Introduction

Appraisal schemes are not all the same. This is Part II of two articles which explore the consequences of this insight for the design and implementation of staff appraisal schemes. It is based on material gathered during five consultancy projects concerned with staff appraisal conducted by myself and colleagues[1]. Part I[2] provided a classification for describing the differences between appraisal schemes which is summarized in Figures 1 and 2. In this article these differences are explained by reference to the idea of acceptability. This involves identifying the rhetorical themes through which those concerned with a proposed appraisal scheme express their anxieties and aspirations concerning it. The discourses about appraisal, formed from these themes, in the various organizations are then related to preferences for different forms of appraisal. The article therefore presents a device to assist decision making designed to help to match schemes to the preferences of different groups within an organization. While Part I (see Volume 23, Issue 8, pp. 34-50) was descriptive, Part II suggests prescriptions for process, which may help scheme designers to arrive at a proposal which fits into the interstices of people's worries, arguments, hyperboles and aspirations concerning appraisal. An acceptable scheme needs, to use an ancient metaphor, to have its centre everywhere and its circumference nowhere.

[Figures 1-2 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Attention will be given to two groups involved in this discourse. In organizations there are many more groups with articulated views on appraisal; the choice of just two is a convenient simplification. They are, first, the senior managers who see some organizational purpose in having appraisal; and second the people within the organization who will be subject to appraisal. These categories are not mutually exclusive; certain individuals may belong to both.

The discourses of appraisal

In this section the information gathered during appraisal consultancy work in five organizations is used to describe the appraisal discourses of management and staff. The themes which make up these discourses emerge from the rhetorical and argumentative process by which people interpret and make sense of organizational changes and developments[3,4]. In some cases people in the organizations had simple views, in the sense that their perception of appraisal was dominated by one or two constructs. In other cases people interpreted appraisal through a complex perspective, constructed out of most of the viewpoints discussed later in this article. As in the paintings of Canaletto, a scene might be painted from a single point of view, or might be concatenated from a multiplicity of perspectives. But, even where there is a variety of locus standi, some themes within the appraisal preference discourses were of more importance than others. Motives and intentions about appraisal are troublesome to interpret. People may have hidden as well as overt ambitions for the impact of an appraisal scheme, and such multiple levels of interpretation[5] add to the density of the discourse. People's objectives about appraisal are forged within these discourses, and the rhetorical themes represent the range of objectives which people express.

Clearly, the range and complexity of views about appraisal in organizations will be great. But, within the organizations in which I acted as a consultant, six particular rhetorical themes in the attitudes of appraisees, and six in the attitudes of senior managers, have been identified. They will be discussed shortly. Consultants have to make sense of these rhetorics and discourses in order to carry out their jobs. And, later in this article, a simple rating system, whereby a total weight of 100 points is allocated among the various themes, will be suggested for the purposes of analysing the appraisal design preferences of staff and management. Given the earlier comments about the complexity of the discourses this may appear to be a foolhardy proceeding. But such heuristic devices are essential to judgement; the danger lies in using them without a knowledge of their limitations and pitfalls. Before this formal system of judging rhetorical themes is used, and defended, the themes themselves must be described.

The anxieties and aspirations of appraisees

The rhetoric of feedback, development and growth

This concerns the extent to which people make sense of their role, and motivate themselves, in terms of personal growth and development. Appraisal can provide the information which helps people to interpret the significance and integrity of their jobs and provide a framework of accountability and feedback. Hackman and Oldham[6] argue that this kind of information is necessary to people who value themselves through growth. People whose objective is personal growth will hope that any proposed appraisal scheme will effectively assist their development but they will also be anxious that a poorly constructed scheme may become a brake or barrier to growth. But, as Hackman also points out, not all people view their jobs from the perspective of personal growth; or view their development as something which can happen only within the arena of their work.

The rhetoric of autonomy and independence

For some people the main consideration in interpreting behaviours within organizations is the effect of these actions on their autonomy, on the extent to which they are left alone to get on with things. The interpretative intonation placed on the idea of autonomy depends, in part, on individuals' responses to the previous issue of feedback, development and growth. Where this is an important issue for individuals, they will be concerned to maximize and protect the space for growth provided by independence. If their concern for feedback and growth (within the job) is low, then they will be concerned to be left alone to get on with their jobs, without being messed about by silly new ideas devised by management. Where autonomy is an important theme for people, for whatever motive, they will hope that appraisal will support and enlarge it, but they will also be anxious that it might constrain and diminish it.

The rhetoric about biased, incompetent and malicious appraisers

It is possible to interpret organizational life as soap opera[7]. From this viewpoint work is about allies, enemies and shifting alliances within the "garbage can" of organizational decision making[8]. When people think of their organizations in these terms, their concerns about appraisal relate to the appraisers' possible inability to, or malicious intention not to, conduct a fair, objective and valid appraisal. Some people, in some of the organizations in which we worked, reported that working in close proximity with their supervisor/appraiser in a small, close-knit team, in an open-plan office, was enough to diminish their confidence in their appraiser's objectivity. In this context, if this is an important theme, people hope that an appraisal scheme will be sufficiently well designed, implemented and monitored for the effects of bias to be minimized. Their objective is to avoid painful, personal, consequences. Their fear is that appraisal will just become another device which can be manipulated to requite personal jealousies and spites.

The rhetoric of hidden agendas

This issue relates to a more cynical, but not necessarily untrue, interpretation of organizations. In the institution of higher education, in which I was involved with appraisal, as discussed in Part I, there was a widespread belief that the real purpose of the appraisal scheme (in contrast with the published purpose) was to impose a system of hierarchical line relationships and management controls in place of the existing collegial pattern of relationships. A similar situation is described by Mohrman et al.[9, pp. 48-59] in their report on an appraisal scheme for highway patrol officers in the USA. The scheme was seen by staff as a cover for a system of promotion based on toadying and favouritism, although, according to senior managers, it had been designed specifically to make promotion decisions more objective. Employees with this perspective are concerned to interpret appraisal policies, documents and practices hermetically. That is to say they look through the apparent messages to the deeper signs and indications which reveal the true, but hidden, purpose. Buglear[10] provides an effective example of this type of analysis. People who judge schemes from this perspective have the objective of preventing the introduction of appraisal, or of keeping the system as bland and as inconsequential as possible.

The rhetoric of equal and fair treatment within the scheme

Fairness is often a theme within the appraisal preference discourses, especially when equal opportunities issues are an important factor in how people think about, and evaluate, an organization. The concern is whether people within the scheme are subject to the same processes, agendas and standards, or whether these things subtly (or perhaps not too subtly) shift according to the category to which the appraiser assigns people. An important aspect of this perspective is a belief that discrimination is a structural feature, and not just the consequence of individual whim or prejudice. This is a different concern therefore from the issue of bias and prejudice already discussed. The fear of people, who see appraisal from this angle, is that it will have processes and criteria built into it which are unfair and inappropriate to certain categories of staff. There is also the anxiety that appraisal interviews will be conducted in a way that does not take into account cultural differences, and reacts uncritically to gender or other categories[11]. Their hope is that the scheme will be so designed that these problems are minimized and appraisal can become a powerful aid to all staff equally.

The rhetoric of performance, promotion and pay

This issue concerns the extent to which people believe that there should be a close and direct link between their performance at work and their pay and promotion prospects. It represents a view in which individual effort is seen as the prime cause of achievement, and a rejection of the view, often seen as fatalist and medieval, that success or failure depends on the movement of the wheel of fortune. The objective expressed by people who hold this view of appraisal is that it will provide an effective mechanism for rewarding them for their effort and achievement.

In our discussions with staff (and indeed managers) who would be appraised under the schemes which we were designing, the rhetorical themes just discussed were the material with which organizational discourses about appraisal were woven.

The anxieties and aspirations of senior managers

The rhetoric of fashion and external stakeholder pressures

Senior managers may, or may not, have a high concern to conform to fashion. But, ironically, the need to achieve competitive advantage tends to produce conformity; and so fashion can be an important aspect of designing appraisal systems. Senior managers need to be seen to be doing whatever the current management gurus and pundits tell them they need to be doing. The type of appraisal scheme they seek to implement therefore will reflect the currently preeminent nostrums. To use a phrase, commonly used by consultants, senior managers "buy into" concepts and models bemuse they offer applicability and suggest action to be taken. Senior managers as a group develop forms of discourse which confirm their view of themselves, and if individuals fail to move and develop with this discourse they begin to disqualify themselves, in the eyes of others, as effective executives.

In other contexts this pressure is not as subtle. In situations where an organization is a division within a wider corporate framework, or a public sector organization which draws its resources from a particular funding body, direct pressure may be exerted by the superordinate body on the subordinate to adopt a particular form of appraisal. For example, the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council pushed very strongly for a competence-rating type of scheme to be applied. This implied a disaggregative view of academic work, which many academics believed could not be applied to the sophisticated complexity of their job. Senior managers do not always, or easily, give in to such external pressure but, for many, managing such demands is a central and fascinating part of their job, which constantly emerges in the stories they tell and the gossip they make.

If senior managers view their role from this viewpoint, then, whether pressure comes from the urge to conform to fashion or from more direct political leverage from stakeholders, appraisal becomes a badge which signals the organization's soundness and acceptability. Their aspiration is acceptability from peers, their anxiety is that they will be seen to be ineffective.

The rhetoric of changing strategic direction and organizational behaviour

In many situations appraisal schemes are interpreted by managers as a way of helping an organization to change habitual priorities and customary ways of working; and thereby to alter its strategic direction. This is especially so in organizations, such as professional partnerships, where power is diffused among the partners and the degree of power differentiation is not so great as it is in hierarchical organizations. Therefore, in situations where change cannot be achieved by managerial proclamation, appraisal takes on the role of the engine of change. Such schemes are intended to bring about change by manipulating the frame of reference within which people work. When managers interpret appraisal from this angle their hope is that it will produce a change in strategic direction and organizational behaviour.

The rhetoric of knowledge of staff competence and potential

In some of the organizations in which we worked, the senior managers' interest in appraisal stemmed from a desire to know about their staff. They said that they viewed their employees as the critical element determining the success or failure of the organization; and so they needed to know about the competence, attitude and morale of staff. In this context appraisal is seen as communication, albeit of a passive and one-way variety. Senior management believe that they can use appraisal as a dipstick to measure the capacity and morale of the people in the organization. They hope that the reading will show when remedial action and lubrication may be needed. This process might include some feedback to staff about what is to be done concerning some of the problems and gripes identified by the appraisal process.

If senior managers view appraisal as a means of knowing the capability of staff in the organization, their hope is that the scheme will replace the gnawing uncertainty, caused by lack of knowledge, with accessible and understandable information about the abilities of staff.

The rhetoric of control and performance

In other cases the desire for an appraisal scheme derives from senior managers' anxiety to be in control of what is happening within the organization. It is this urge which drives people with a power culture, or simple structure, orientation (to use the cultural classifications produced by Harrison[12] and Mintzberg[13]) to develop appraisal as a means of keeping tabs on people, and making sure that they are achieving what they are meant to be achieving. If the span of control is small enough the powerful figures at the centres of such organizations can do this by informal communications and contacts. The requirement for an appraisal scheme appears when the organization becomes too large for informal methods of control to be effective. Another aspect of this view is the role of appraisal in identifying (and then weeding out) the non-performers, the people who are not performing satisfactorily. From this perspective managers' objective is to use appraisal as a tool of managerial control.

The rhetoric of staff reward

The term reward is beginning to usurp the place of the word pay in senior managers' lexicons. This partly implies that reward may include things other than money, but it also suggests that staff ought to be rewarded in proportion to their contribution to meeting the goals of the organization. If this is so then an appraisal scheme is necessary to provide a mechanism to ensure that the contributions of staff are correctly identified. It is not necessary, within this perspective, for managers to believe that performance-related pay (PRP) actually makes people perform better. That would be a policy justification of PRP which would be more appropriate to the perspective concerned with changing organizational behaviour and strategic direction. Instead, this way of thinking believes that PRP is simply the right and proper thing to do; whether' or not it actually motivates people to perform better. This view is concerned with equity rather than with utility.

Rewards to staff in this context are not: always monetary, provided through PRP; quite commonly rewards will be provided through non-monetary perks. In such circumstances the rewards might be staff development opportunities, such as attendance at courses, secondments or special projects. But, whatever the form of the rewards, the view of the world which this perspective suggests concerns the natural justice of rewarding people according to their merit. Managers with this perspective hope an appraisal scheme will meet this equitable purpose.

The rhetoric of the enabling organization

This theme concerns the extent to which senior management wish to encourage and release the capability and creativity of their staff by increasing their autonomy. Where this is an important issue for managers, the function of appraisal is, not to check or to control, but to encourage. It is certainly a goal of many staff appraisal schemes in education. As Colling wrote:

therefore the underlying premise and justification for such work (appraisal

and evaluation) is that only teams of school or college staff progressively

focussing on the themes and dilemmas arising from a cumulative understanding

of the nature of their particular task are in a proper position to make

valid, credible and relevant recommendations for future action[14, p. 81].

This theme describes how far senior management understand and agree with this phenomenological (or interpretativist) conception of appraisal. A high rating on this issue implies that managers see appraisal as a way of releasing creativity. There is much rhetoric in the professional journals and seminars which says that they do believe this, particularly in the context of total quality management, quality circles and other similar developments. But, of course, not all managers will view their organization through the rhetorical prism of empowerment; or act on it if they do.

In summary, these themes represent the ideas and attitudes which, in different combinations, made up the discourses of appraisal among the managements of the organizations in which I worked on appraisal.

The patterns of rhetorical themes in five organizations

One purpose of this work is to allow myself an opportunity to theorize about the learning I gained while working on appraisal consultancy projects. My intention, as part of this task, was to see whether it might be possible to formalize my judgements about the culture and ethos of organizations as they related to appraisal. As mentioned earlier, a weighting scale of 100 points was used to make formal, subjective judgements about the relative importance of these rhetorical themes in the appraisal discourses of staff and managers. These judgements, made by myself and colleagues, about anxieties and aspirations in the five organizations, in which we worked on appraisal, are shown in Table I.

Table I. Assessments of the anxieties and aspirations of staff and managers in five case-study organizations
                                      Case study organizations

Themes and perspectives on            Professional
appraisal                               practice     Retailer

    Staff
1   Equal and fair treatment               30           30
2   Feedback and development                5           15
3   Autonomy                               25           30
4   Anxiety about bias and
    incompetence of appraiser              10           20
5   Anxiety about hidden agenda             0            0
6   Links between performance
    and pay                                30            5
    Total of weights                      100          100

    Management
1   Fashion and external pressures         10           20
2   Changing strategic direction           40            5
3   Developing and recording
    staff's competence                      0           30
4   Control of staff's performance          5           30
5   Rewarding well-performing staff        40           10
6   Enabling and empowering staff           5            5
    Total of weights                      100          100

                                      Case study organizations

                                                  Institute of
Themes and perspectives on            Insurance      higher
appraisal                              broker      education

    Staff
1   Equal and fair treatment             20            20
2   Feedback and development             40            10
3   Autonomy                             15            30
4   Anxiety about bias and
    incompetence of appraiser            15            10
5   Anxiety about hidden agenda           5            30
6   Links between performance
    and pay                               5             0
    Total of weights                    100           100

    Management
1   Fashion and external pressures        5            20
2   Changing strategic direction          5             5
3   Developing and recording
    staff's competence                   40            15
4   Control of staff's performance       30            30
5   Rewarding well-performing staff       0            10
6   Enabling and empowering staff        20            20
    Total of weights                    100           100

                                      Case study organizations

Themes and perspectives on                    Regional
appraisal                                    newspaper

    Staff
1   Equal and fair treatment                     30
2   Feedback and development                     15
3   Autonomy                                     15
4   Anxiety about bias and
    incompetence of appraiser                     5
5   Anxiety about hidden agenda                  30
6   Links between performance
    and pay                                       5
    Total of weights                            100

    Management
1   Fashion and external pressures               15
2   Changing strategic direction                  5
3   Developing and recording
    staff's competence                           30
4   Control of staff's performance               30
5   Rewarding well-performing staff              15
6   Enabling and empowering staff                 5
    Total of weights                            100


They are intended to substitute for a narrative description of the discourses of appraisal in each organization.

The question of the validity of such weightings still remains. The danger of using numerical scales is that they imply a degree of objectivity and scientific rigour which is belied by the subjective nature of the judgements. A practical benefit is that numbers can be formally manipulated more easily than can narrative description; and I will take advantage of that fact in this article. But such use should be made only with full awareness of the limitations of the weightings. The first is that the weightings can, at best, only represent a moment in time:. There is no guarantee that the balance and focus of the debates over appraisal might not change dramatically and quickly. Second, the weightings cannot ascribe motive or sincerity to the way in which those themes are used in debate. The third limitation is that the validity of the weightings depends on the "connoisseurship"[15] of the person making the judgements. This is a particularly important issue when some themes may be more publicly debated, and open, than others. The problems associated with interpreting discourses are discussed by Fisher[16].

The relationships between the appraisal rhetorics and preferences about the design characteristics of appraisal schemes

The task, in this section, is to relate the design characteristics of schemes to the anxieties and aspirations of the people involved with it. The information in Table II represents our judgements about these relationships; described using a simple numerical rating scale, which shows how preferences for each rhetorical theme causes some design features to be favoured and others to be opposed. This scale is applied in two ways. One way is used to show the relationship between anxieties and aspirations, and preferences about type and purpose of appraisal. In this case the scale of-2 through to +2 expresses strength of reaction (+2 = strongly preferred; +1 = preferred; 0 = indifferent; -1 = not favoured; -2 = strongly not favoured). Second, the scale is used to predict preferences between options on the design dimensions discussed earlier. These can be identified by reference to Figure 2 where the rating scale is reproduced at the top of the figure. The judgements about the relationships are shown in Table II.

Table II. Preference coefficients used to express judgement about the relationships between appraisal design preferences
                                         Type of appraisal

                                    Hierarch-   Account-   Develop-
Anxiety and aspiration       Peer     ical      ability      ment

Staff
Fairness and equality          0        0          0           0
Feedback and development      +1       +2          0          +2
Autonomy                      +2       -2         +1          +1
Anxiety about appraiser
  incompetence and bias       +2        0          0          +2
Anxiety about hidden
  agendas                     +2        0          0          +2
Aspiration for pay to be
performance-linked             0       +2         +2           0

Management
Fashion and external
  pressures                    0       +2         +2          +1
Change strategic direction    -1       +2         +2          +1
Staff competence and
  development                  0       +2         +1          +2
Control of performance        -2       +2         +2           0
Rewarding high-performing
  staff                        0        0         +2           0
Creating an enabling
  organization                +1       -2         +2          +2

                                    Design features

                               Pay     Focus of
Anxiety and aspiration       related   control   Appeals

Staff
Fairness and equality          +2        -1        -2
Feedback and development       +1         0        +1
Autonomy                        0        +2        +1
Anxiety about appraiser
  incompetence and bias        +2         0        -2
Anxiety about hidden
  agendas                      +2         0         0
Aspiration for pay to be
performance-linked             -2        +2        -2

Management
Fashion and external
  pressures                    -2        -1         0
Change strategic direction     -2        -1         0
Staff competence and
  development                  +2        -2         0
Control of performance          0        -2         0
Rewarding high-performing
  staff                        -2        -2        -1
Creating an enabling
  organization                 +2        +2        +1

                                     Design features

                                       Structure
                             Formal-      of
Anxiety and aspiration       ization   judgement   Frequency

Staff
Fairness and equality          -2         -2           0
Feedback and development       -2         -2          +2
Autonomy                       +2         +2          -2
Anxiety about appraiser
  incompetence and bias        -2         -2          -2
Anxiety about hidden
  agendas                      -2         -2          -2
Aspiration for pay to be
performance-linked              0          0           0

Management
Fashion and external
  pressures                    -1          0           0
Change strategic direction     -2         -2          +1
Staff competence and
  development                  -2         -2          +2
Control of performance         -2         -2          +2
Rewarding high-performing
  staff                        -2          0          +1
Creating an enabling
  organization                 +1         +2          +1

                              Design features

                                     Implemen-
Anxiety and aspiration       Scope    tation

Staff
Fairness and equality         +2        +2
Feedback and development      +2        -2
Autonomy                      -2        +2
Anxiety about appraiser
  incompetence and bias        0        +2
Anxiety about hidden
  agendas                     +1         0
Aspiration for pay to be
performance-linked            -2         0

Management
Fashion and external
  pressures                    0        -2
Change strategic direction    -1        -2
Staff competence and
  development                 -2         0
Control of performance         0        -2
Rewarding high-performing
  staff                        0        -1
Creating an enabling
  organization                +2        +2


Notes: A positive figure represents preference, a negative figure represents disfavour. (The coefficients relate to the scales and design dimensions shown in Figure 2.)

Forming these judgements is akin to eliciting the knowledge base needed for the creation of an expert system. The assessments published by Mohrman[9, Tables 2 and 3] which cover a smaller range of design issues, broadly support our assessments. But the views presented in Table II are not final, they need to be adjusted as our experience, and that of others, develop.

The use of such assessments carries the intellectual dangers of biased or distorted judgement which are well described in the work of Hogarth[17] and Kahneman et al.[18]. However, the model, based on these judgements, does have the advantage of being aggregated from a large number of detailed forecasts. This process minimizes some of the risks of distorted judgement. It would have been possible to make much wider generalizations; about the links between classifications of organizational cultures (such as that developed by Harrison[12]) and preferences between types of appraisal. However, this might have suggested that people who like working within a "people culture" might prefer peer review appraisal; while those who favour a "team culture" might be more comfortable with peer accountability schemes. Target and objective setting would be an attractive form of appraisal to those who see organizations as "power cultures". And people imbued with "role culture" would see the assessment-of-competence-standards type of appraisal as reinforcing their concern for order and stability. But such a high level generalization would be dangerous because it would underestimate the complexities of the discourses of appraisal.

Choosing the design characteristics of an organizational appraisal scheme

In this section a model is developed which might help scheme designers to choose the elements of appraisal that would be found acceptable in a client organization. As a set of types and design features has been defined in Figures 1 and 2, this process involves choice and elimination. The model, which is available as a spreadsheet[19], requires an assessment of the appraisal discourses, of the commissioners and subjects of the scheme, in terms of numerical weightings of the rhetorical themes, to be input. The spreadsheet then calculates two profiles, indicating the type and character of the appraisal scheme preferred by each group.

This decision model can be illustrated by reference to the institution of higher education, which is one of the organizations studied. The tables in Figures 3 and 4 represent the decision-making model and include all the subjective judgements which have already been discussed. The judgements presented in Table II about the relationships between different rhetorics and different types of schemes are; now transposed into the triangles in Figures 3 and 4 where they act as coefficients. They show, in summary, our judgement about the acceptability of each design feature seen from the perspective of each rhetorical theme. The columns headed "weightings" in Figures 3 and 4 are used to represent the priorities between the various anxieties and aspirations about appraisal which were identified earlier. The particular figures shown relate to the preferences of management and staff in the institution of higher education concerned and have been transferred from the relevant columns of Table I.

[Figures 3-4 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The weightings and coefficients can be multiplied together, using the logic of multiple-attribute utility testing[20,21, p. 227]. This, in effect, creates a series of weighted averages of preferences which is summed, to give an overall profile of the relative preferences of senior management and of staff for various possible scheme design elements. The profile scores, seen along the bottom row of Figures 3 and 4, can be translated into specific design features by using them to plot the preference profiles in Figure 5 which compares the design preferences of staff and senior management. A more detailed version of the profile can be seen in Figure 2.

[Figure 5 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The profiles in Figure 5 do not represent the scheme which is eventually implemented. Clearly they cannot because they show where the design preferences of staff and management differ. The main difference, in the case of the institution of higher education, is on the question of the purpose of appraisal. The staff show a preference for peer appraisal, while the management give a higher rating to competence assessment and objective setting. On the issue of design features, there are several dimensions on which the two sides do not differ greatly. The staff, however, would prefer to see appraisal carried out rather less frequently than the managers would like. The staff would also like greater involvement in the design and implementation processes. The profiles merely represent a map of the positions and terrains which the scheme designer has to negotiate in developing and implementing a scheme.

Conclusions

The model presented in this article is intended to be an aid to people in designing appraisal schemes. The emphasis has not been on any discussion of the correctness or significance of appraisal in modern organizations. The focus has been on the acceptability of an appraisal scheme to all the parties involved; and on the responsibility of a scheme designer or consultant to construct a scheme which meets the minimum needs both of subjects and commissioners. The model is designed to help to identify these minimum needs. Nothing in this approach, of course, would prevent the consultants from withdrawing from a project, or arguing for a very different kind of scheme, if they felt that the commissioners; of the scheme had moved beyond what was proper in their demands from it. This was a state at which my colleagues and I nearly arrived in one of the consultancies we undertook.

The second major conclusion refers to the use of formal decision-making models in human resource management. It is that there is a role for formal models, but a restricted one. This is reflected in the use of this model as an aid, as a precursor, to a negotiated and iterative scheme development phase[16]. Indeed one important conclusion to be drawn from this approach to appraisal design is that the notion of a technocratically optimum appraisal scheme has an ontological status similar to that of the philosopher's stone. Consequently scheme designers and others need to focus on acceptability as a form of subjective optimality.

Notes and references

[1.] I was part of a team on the appraisal consultancies. The other team members were Mike Neale of Lincolnshire Business School and Lynette Harris of Nottingham Business School. The responsibility for the analysis, and the mistakes, in these articles, however, belongs to me.

[2.] Fisher, C.M., "The differences between appraisal schemes: variation and acceptability -- Part I", Personnel Review, Vol. 23 No. 8, 1994, pp. 33-48.

[3.] Billig, M., Ideology and Opinion: Studies in Rhetorical Psychology, Sage, London, 1991.

[4.] Watson, T.J., "Managing management", paper to the Annual Conference of the British Academy of Management, University of Bradford, 1992.

[5.] Young, E., "On the naming of the rose. Interests and multiple meanings as elements of organisational culture", in Frost, P.J., Louis, M.R., Landberg, C.C. and Marlin, J., Reframing Organisational Culture, Sage, London, 1991.

[6.] Hackman, J.R. and Oldham, G.R., "Motivation through the design of work: test of a theory", Organisational Behaviour and Human Performance, Vol. 16 No. 2,1976.

[7.] Munson, P., "The social construction of management information systems in a hospital", unpublished PhD dissertation, Nottingham Polytechnic, 1990.

[8.] Cohen, M.D., March, J.G. and Olsen, J.D., "A garbage can model of organisational choice", Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 17, 1972, pp. 1-25.

[9.] Mohrman, A. Jr, Resnick-West, S.M. and Lawler, E.E. III, Designing Performance Appraisal Schemes: Aligning Appraisals and Organisational Realities, Jossey-Bass, Oxford, 1989.

[10.] Buglear, J., "Appraisal: what it is and why we should fight it", Evaluation Newsletter, Society for Research into Higher Education, Vol. 10 No. 2, Winter, 1986.

[11.] Shakeshaft, C., "Gender and supervision", paper presented to the Equal Advances in Education Management Conference, based on Shakeshaft, C., Nowell, I. and Perry, A., "Gender and supervision", Theory and Practice, Fall, 1990.

[12.] Harrison, R., "How to describe your organization", Harvard Business Review, September-December 1972.

[13.] Mintzberg, H., The Structuring of Organisations, Prentice-Hall International, London, 1979.

[14.] Colling, C., "Evaluation, appraisal, research and democracy: linking the unlinkable", in Coiling, C. (Ed.), Models of Appraisal 1, Standing Conference on Educational Development, Occasional Paper No. 33, 1986.

[15.] Eisner, E.W., "The use of qualitative forms of evaluation for improving educational practice", Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Vol. 1 No. 6, 1979.

[16.] Fisher, C.M., Consultancy and Appraisal: Contextualising Strategic Rationality, unpublished paper, Nottingham Business School, no date.

[17.] Hogarth, R., Judgement and Choice, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, 1980.

[18.] Kahneman, D., Slovic, P. and Tversky, A. (Eds), Judgement under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1982.

[19.] A spreadsheet application for carrying out the calculations in Figures 3 and 4 is available from the author.

[20.] Wright, G., Behavioural Derision Theory: An Introduction, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1984.

[21.] Cooke, S. and Slack, N., Making Management Decisions, Prentice-Hall, London, 1984.

Further reading

Erban, P., "How they manage performance in Windsor", Personnel Management, Vol. 21 No. 2, 1989.

Management Charter Initiative, Occupational Standards for Managers, MCI, London, 1991.

Schein, E.R., Organizational Culture and Leadership, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, 1985.

Watson, T.J., In Search of Management: Culture, Chaos and Control in Management, Routledge, London, 1994.

Colin M. Fisher The Nottingham Trent University, UK
COPYRIGHT 1995 Emerald Group Publishing, Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:The Differences Between Appraisal Schemes: Variation and Acceptability, part 2
Author:Fisher, Colin M.
Publication:Personnel Review
Date:Jan 1, 1995
Words:5825
Previous Article:Managing job stress: an employee assistance human resource management partnership.
Next Article:The research context and change triggers.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters