In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Performance Appraisal

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • Journals
  • History and Trends
  • A Global Perspective

Management Performance Appraisal
Angelo S. DeNisi
  • LAST REVIEWED: 12 November 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 April 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0002


Performance appraisal is concerned with assessing the performance of employees at work, although the concept and models apply to any situation where assessment of performance is important. Although the literature considers multiple purposes for conducting appraisals, the term really refers to the specific types of decisions that will be based on appraisal information. Ultimately, the purpose of conducting an appraisal is to improve the performance of the workforce. But the specific process of changing that performance is more properly considered performance management. Thus when considered together, performance appraisal and performance management represent one of the most critical processes that exist in organizations for managing employee behavior.

General Overviews

Books written about performance appraisal are different from more traditional textbooks in other areas in which the content and coverage are more or less standard, because there are few schools that offer formal courses in this area. Those schools that do offer performance appraisal courses do so only as part of specialized graduate programs. Thus the books that exist tend to be written around a specific model or approach favored by the author. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries a number of books have been written specifically about performance management, and several books take a global perspective on appraisal processes. These too tend to espouse a specific model or approach. Therefore, although all such books cover certain topics in common, the difference across books is much greater than might be the case in other areas. Several books in fact are written to make the point that performance appraisal should be abolished. In all cases, revisions are infrequent if they occur at all; thus a major issue is whether a book is so outdated as to no longer be useful. Perhaps the first major work in the area was Bernardin and Beatty 1984. One of the most widely cited books in the area today is Murphy and Cleveland 1995. DeNisi 1996 is a good example of a book built around a specific model, while Aguinis 2013 and Pulakos 2009 focus more on performance management. Varma, et al. 2008 is an edited volume that deals with global issues in the area. Coens and Jenkins 2000 is a good example of the call for the abolishment of appraisals.

  • Aguinis, Herman. Performance Management. 3d ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2013.

    This book does an excellent job of integrating concepts from performance appraisal, reward systems, and strategic management to provide a comprehensive view of the performance management process. Although it is academically oriented, the book includes many examples of instruments and tools to help design an effective system and is meant for anyone interested in the subject.

  • Bernardin, H. John, and Richard W. Beatty. Performance Appraisal: Assessing Human Behavior at Work. Kent Human Resource Management Series. Boston: Kent, 1984.

    This is one of the first books devoted exclusively to performance appraisal; the book is especially strong in its discussion of rating scale formats and rater training. And although it is somewhat out of date, it is an excellent source for both scholars and practitioners.

  • Coens, Tom, and Mary Jenkins. Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why They Backfire and What to Do Instead. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2000.

    Good example of a work suggesting that appraisal should be abolished. Raises good points about problems with appraisal but proposes alternatives that are as problematic.

  • DeNisi, Angelo S. A Cognitive Approach to Performance Appraisal: A Program of Research. People and Organizations. London: Routledge, 1996.

    This book provides a good overview of the history of practice and research in the area of performance appraisal; its major aim is to describe a program of research designed to examine rater cognitive processes involved in the appraisal process, how to influence those processes, and the effects of those processes on appraisals. Aimed primarily at graduate students and scholars studying performance appraisal.

  • Murphy, Kevin R., and Jeanette N. Cleveland. Understanding Performance Appraisal: Social, Organizational, and Goal-Based Perspectives. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 1995.

    This is the book most widely cited by scholars in the area today; it provides an excellent history of the development of appraisal systems. The book is distinguished by the discussion of the relationship between rating errors and rating effectiveness, the distinction between private judgments about performance and public ratings, and the role of rater motivation in determining actual ratings.

  • Pulakos, Elaine. Performance Management: A New Approach for Driving Business Results. Chichester, UK: Wiley, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1002/9781444308747

    This is a practical book aimed at practicing managers with ideas that are well grounded in scholarly literature. Takes a hands-on approach to the subject with considerable detail on exactly how to establish an effective performance management system.

  • Varma, Arup, Pawan Budhwar, and Angelo S. DeNisi, eds. Performance Management Systems: A Global Perspective. Routledge Global Human Resource Management Series. New York: Routledge, 2008.

    This is an edited volume dealing with appraisals in a multinational context and comparing appraisal practices and techniques in different regions of the world; it is meant for scholars at all levels and practicing managers.

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