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A CASE STUDY OF PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL IN A SMALL PUBLIC SECTOR ORGANISATION

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

A CASE STUDY OF PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL IN A SMALL PUBLIC SECTOR ORGANISATION: THE GAPS BETWEEN EXPECTATIONS AND EXPERIENCE JOHN MOONEY A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Chester for the degree of Masters of Business Administration CHESTER BUSINESS SCHOOL December 2009 Acknowledgements To my beloved wife Lesley, and children, Liam, Shaun and Hannah, who tolerated my regular withdrawals from normal family life throughout my MBA studies. And to the talented and approachable lecturers and staff on the Chester MBA programme. Abstract The research project sets out to identify the gaps between expectations and experiences of performance appraisal in a small public sector organisation. The document explains how Passenger Focus, the rail watchdog, has undergone a successful corporate transformation from the previous federal network of regional committees into a new credible consumer body. The organisation has a new vision, and robust business planning processes have been introduced. However, there is a need to improve performance management through a new performance appraisal system. The overall purpose of the research is to assess the gaps between expectations and experiences in order to inform a new system. The literature review explains the background to the development of performance and its measurement in the public sector. It includes a detailed analysis of thinking on performance appraisal. The literature review concludes that performance appraisal can greatly benefit organisations, but appears to not be delivering in many cases. A conceptual model is developed to frame the empirical research. The research takes the form of a case study, and the findings are collated through qualitative interviews. A focus group was conducted, which framed the issues of concern, and these were explored in much more detail through semi-structured interviews. The findings revealed that there was a high level of understanding from staff of the need for performance appraisal. The largest gap between expectations and experiences lay in the current system, with respondents particularly concerned about the lack of training and over-simplistic documentation. ...read more.

Middle

It is argued above that positivism is more concerned with hard science. Robson (2002) suggests that the aspiration for social researchers to become hard scientists is not possible. It is far from the intention of the author to adopt a scientific approach to the research. A positivist paradigm conflicts with the researcher's motivation to examine the human factors that lead to captured opinions on expectations and experiences of performance appraisal. The interpretivist approach is generally associated with qualitative research. In much literature (Saunders et al 2003, Miles and Huberman 1994) it is also described as phenomenology. Researchers who take this position believe that reality is socially constructed (Fisher 2004). This approach appeals to the social curiosity of the author. Interpretative research seeks people's accounts of how they make sense of the world, and the structures and processes within it. This is directly relevant to capturing data on expectations and experiences of performance appraisal, which, according to the literature review, is a very subjective matter. The interpretative approach allows researchers to get close to participants to interpret their subjective understanding of reality (Shaw 1999) and appeals to the author as a way of obtaining depth of understanding. The most apt definition of the interpretive paradigm, , relevant to answering the research question, comes from Saunders et al (2003) who suggest it is " a philosophical position which is concerned with understanding the way we as humans make sense of the world around us". For the reasons set out above, the researcher adopted an interpretivist paradigm. 3.3 Research Approach There are two main choices for the research approach. A deductive approach is consistent with developing a theory and testing it through research, whereas an inductive approach collects data to develop a theory (Saunders et al 2003). Induction is when a conclusion is drawn from past experience (Fisher 2004). The key research question is to assess the gap between expectations and experiences of performance appraisal. ...read more.

Conclusion

iii. It would be useful to research organisations that have successfully linked individual and team performance improvements to the attainment of organisational goals. A case study with an appropriate organisation would add to the debate on the effectiveness of performance appraisal. 6. Recommendations Informed by the research, this chapter sets out recommendations for the development of a performance appraisal system that closes the gap between what staff expect from the system, and what they get. 6.1 A new performance appraisal system A new performance appraisal system should be developed and implemented as soon as possible, and it should incorporate the following features; a. Progress against individual objectives b. Setting and recording of new objectives, with clear links to the business plan. c. Discussion and clarification of role and responsibilities d. Identification of required competencies, and measurement. e. Identification of short term training needs linked to business plan f. Discussion on career aspirations and identification of development needs g. Prioritisation of training and development h. Identification of barriers to individual and team performance i. Overview of individual performance j. Overview of team performance k. A broad ranged rating system for final score 6.2 Design of system - engagement with staff Passenger Focus staff at all levels should be involved in the design, consultation and approval of the new system. 6.3 Multi-Source Feedback Further discussions should take place between the Executive Management Team and Staff Forum to investigate the feasibility and potential benefits of multi- source feedback, including 360 degree feedback and self appraisal. 6.4 Training and Guidance Prior to launch of the new system, training should be given to all managers on the purpose, system, delivery and outcomes of performance appraisal. Guidance should be developed for staff receiving appraisals. 6.5 Performance Management Passenger Focus Executive Management Team should discuss and agree a mechanism that ensures the outcomes of performance appraisal are incorporated into the wider performance management regime more comprehensively. This mechanism should identify how the results of individual and team performance relate to organisational performance and objective setting. ...read more.

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