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The impact of performance management and measurement on task performance and organisational citizenship behaviour: evidence from Chinese public sector organisations
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posted on 09.02.2017by Wang, Meng
Since the introduction of performance related pay into Chinese public sector organisations in 2009, there has been growing interest in performance management and measurement (PMM) in public sector organisations in China. This research project is to investigate the purposes and impact of PMM practices that are implemented in Chinese public sector organisations. An intensive literature review was conducted to examine the studies on PMM, the purposes of PMM, the direct impact of PMM used for monitoring and decision making purposes on the job performance (including task performance and organizational citizenship behavior - OCB) of individuals in general, in Chinese public sector organisations in particular. The review also studied the indirect impact of PMM that is directed towards the monitoring and decision making purposes on their job performance through the mediating function of role conflict. Based on the extant literature review and lacunas identified, two broad research questions were raised for this study. The first question is focused on the examination of relationships between PMM, job performance, and role conflict, whereas the second one is related to why and how these relationships may occur. Seven research hypotheses were proposed to address the first research question.
Given the nature of the research questions and hypotheses, a mixed methods design combining a quantitative survey and a qualitative case study was adopted. A Chinese public university was selected for conducting this research and its middle-level managers became the focus of the study. A questionnaire survey was first conducted with 693 respondents (including 212 middle-level managers and 481 middle-level managers’ superiors and subordinates) in the university. The quantitative findings of this research suggest that PMM practices for middle managers in the case university have been used for monitoring and decision making purposes. From the perspective of middle managers, these two purposes are highly correlated and should be combined to one variable – PMM used for monitoring and decision making purposes. Hypotheses concerning the positive and direct relationship between PMM used for monitoring and decision making purposes and job performance (task performance and OCB) are confirmed only based on the self-report data of middle managers. However, these hypotheses are rejected if tested with the other-report data of job performance which were collected from managers’ superiors and subordinates. The quantitative results of the survey illustrate that role conflict does not mediate the relationships between PMM used for monitoring and decision making purposes and job performance (for both self-report and other-report data of task performance and OCB).
As the quantitative evidence provides only limited support for the hypotheses, the discrepancies between the hypotheses and the quantitative results need to be further examined. A qualitative case study was conducted to explore these discrepancies and also address the second research question. A total of 18 interviews were conducted among middle managers who perform both academic and administrative roles. Relevant archives were obtained to study relevant policies on PMM used in the case university. Among these, three performance appraisal systems currently implemented for middle-level managers in the university were identified. Two of them (i.e., probation appraisal and annual appraisal) were studied, including their implementation process and impacts on middle managers. The case study explored the perceptions and experiences of middle managers regarding their perceptions of the purposes of PMM used by the university, how and why they experienced role conflict as well as the impact of PMM and role conflict on their subsequent task performance and OCB.
The qualitative findings of this research suggest that the Western originated PMM practices seem to be used in this case university. However, the qualitative evidence indicates that the Western developed concept of PMM has been superficially applied. The PMM used in this university is very narrowly focused. It uses broad and abstract measurements and it is ‘flexible’ in its implementation due to a lack of transparency. Hence the theoretical and practical development of PMM in this Chinese public university is still in an early stage of development. The Western originated PMM practices are not adapted to suit the unique organizational and cultural environment of the case university. The deficiencies identified by this study in current appraisal practices could be attributed to political, institutional, cultural factors indigenous to China that inform managerial practices there. These deficiencies could negatively impact on managers and their superiors and subordinates, such as their lack of trust and confidence in current appraisal practices. These problems will be difficult to be picked up by the quantitative study, and thus we should be cautious when we directly test Western developed theories in a non-Western context using a quantitative study. Theoretical and practical implications of this study are discussed. Limitations of this study and areas for future research are suggested.