A Discussion of the Orthodox and Radical Critiques of

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Though performance appraisal has become an integral part of modern organizations and a crucial aspect in performance management in assessing their effectiveness and efficiency. Its critiques have continued as appraisals have increase in use and scope across sectors and occupation. The two dominant schools have been that of orthodox and radical critiques. This paper will discuss some of the orthodox and radical critiques of performance appraisal and evaluates the recent innovation of 360 degree feedback to see if it has been able to overcome the traditional limitations of appraisal systems. This paper will first define performance appraisal, then discuss the orthodox critiques of performance appraisal. This will be followed by the discussion of radical critiques before looking at the 360 degree feedback and evaluating the extent it has been able to overcome the limitations of the traditional appraisal systems

Dessler (1999) defines performance appraisal as a process that identifies, evaluates and develops employee performance to meet both employee and organizational goals. John Ivancevich (2001) defines it as an activity that is used to determine the extent to which an employee performs work effectively and efficiently. The appraiser during the performance appraisal process identifies performance through observation and the collection of performance based information and evaluates this performance against set criteria and indicators as agreed between both parties in case of management by objective or from the job description of the appraisee. This process is crucial in ensuring that an organization is competitive and for strategizing in terms of planning for promotions, training, recruitments etc. Although people recognize its importance, there are many criticisms that have been leveled against performance appraisal that will be discussed below.

One of the dominant critiques of performance appraisal is that of orthodox which criticizes the process of performance appraisal. Its main purpose is bring to the fore the imperfections in the design and implementation of different performance appraisal systems (Bach, 2005). The orthodox critics argues that there are several anomalies and errors in the designs and implementation process of performance appraisal that renders this process to ineffective in achieving its purpose as such resulting in providing feedback that is erroneous. They also argue that the appraisal process is used for a variety of conflicting purposes as such it becomes difficult to tailor it for a specific purpose such as training and development, reward and compensations, promotions etc. (Strebler et al.,2001). The problem regarding this arises because frequently, these different elements are blended together in an ill-defined manner resulting in providing limited information on most aspects of the performance appraisal (Bach, 2005). Secondly, there is the problem of subjectivity and biasness especially with regard to rater bias whereby the person rating can be influenced by the perceptions he/she has of the employee being evaluated. In addition, prejudice for example, sex and gender or race discrimination can also come into play where the appraiser tend to favor one sex or certain races in his/her evaluations. Thirdly, managers are reluctant to make negative judgments on an individual’s performance as it could be demotivating, leading to appraisee accusations of lack of managerial support and contribution to an individual’s poor performance, in addition, a recognition that their own lack of support and guidance may have contributed to poor performance. In short managers are reluctant to play the role of God. Fourthly, in line with that of reluctance to judge others is that of conflict avoidance whereby the manager rates all criterions in the middle rating point, known as the “central tendency”. This is because managers may find it difficult to give an employee a good or bad rating as they would not want...
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