Case in Point: Introducing the Performance Review System to Students

[The following post is re-blogged from SAGE Connection. Please click here to view the original article.]

In most companies, performance appraisals (PA) are a common practice used to evaluate overall employee performance while monitoring and fostering the success of both the employee and the company as a whole. This month’s installment of Case in Point, a blog series drawn from SAGE Business Cases and containing insights from thought leaders in business and management, explores a case study written by Dr. David Kimball that follows one human resource director’s journey to construct a valid PA and performance management system (PMS). The following is an interview with Dr. Kimball as he explains the benefits of teaching performance review systems to students in a classroom setting:

  1. The case you wrote describes the implementation of a performance appraisal system at a company that had never had one in place before. In your opinion, what are the top three takeaways from this case for those learning about implementing a performance review system for the first time?

The top takeaway is to consider performance appraisals from the ground up. The student is able to think of the true goals of the PA. What does the company really want to accomplish with the implementation of a PA process?

The second takeaway is for the student to consider what an employee can learn from the PA process. What areas of a job are reviewed in the performance review? In the case, students can assess the areas of work that are the human resource director’s strengths.  Where are  her weaknesses?

The third takeaway is for students to design and complete a PA Form. Students can either use the form in the case or practice designing their own form. Students can also complete the form for this particular director’s performance.

  1. What kind of information would you expect students to bring to this case study in order to accomplish the assignment?

Most students have not been in a management position where they administer a PA. So, the case allows the student to experience what this individual has to accomplish by creating and administering a performance appraisal system. The student in class is able to role play being the human resource director in a performance appraisal situation.

  1. How are problem-based case studies particularly helpful in teaching real-world management issues in the classroom?

Student engagement in class increases dramatically during case discussions.  This case is intentionally short to allow students to read the case in class, discuss it within teams during class, and present their findings in class. Students like to participate in Skill-Building cases that allow them to develop their own skills as managers.

Learn more by reading the full case study, Why Do We Conduct Performance Appraisals? Jennee LeBeau and the Case of the Missing Performance Appraisal System  from SAGE Business Cases, open to the public for a limited time. To learn more about SAGE Business Cases and to find out how to submit a case to the collection, please contact Rachel Taliaferro, Associate Editor: rachel.taliaferro@sagepub.com.

Read last month’s case in point, A For-Profit Model for Social Entrepreneurship.

Dr. David Kimball, co-author of Sport Management: Principles, Applications and Skills and  Entrepreneurial New Venture Skills

From the Ordinary to Corruption in Higher Education

[We’re pleased to welcome author Mildred A. Schwartz of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Schwartz recently published an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “From the Ordinary to Corruption in Higher Education.” From Schwartz:]

When I moved to New Jersey after many years of teaching in Chicago, my interest as a political and organizational sociologist was piqued by theJMI_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpg kind of corruption I learned of.  Not fully satisfied with existing theories and explanations, I began thinking of how to approach corruption as a sociological phenomenon.  Then, when I read local press coverage about misconduct at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), I felt that I had found the ideal case
for exploring how corruption could arise even within such an unexpected setting–a university dedicated to the health care professions.

Of all the findings that came from my research, at least two were surprising.  One was the prevalence of many of the illegal or unethical behaviors found at UMDNJ in other U.S. universities that had medical schools.  The second was the ability of UMDNJ and other universities, despite misconduct, to still fulfill their duties to train health care professionals, advance scientific research, and treat the sick.

I would like to think that my findings will inspire efforts at controlling organizational corruption, particularly as it is manifested in higher education.  At least three guidelines emerged from the larger research, discussed in my book, Trouble in the University:  How the Education of Health Care Professionals became Corrupted (Brill, 2014).  One is the importance of enough transparency to allow organizational participants to understand how decisions are made.  Second is the need for accepted avenues through which to express complaints without fear of reprisal.   Third, and this is especially relevant to state-supported universities although it is not confined to them, is the need for firm boundaries between politics and education.

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How to Shift a Student’s Focus from Grades to Self-Discovery

[We’re pleased to welcome author Matthew Eriksen of Providence College. Eriksen recently published an article in the Journal of Management Education entitled “Shared-Purpose Process Implications and Possibilities for Student Learning, Development, and Self-Transformation,” co-authored by Kevin Cooper. Below, Eriksen outlines the inspiration for this study:]

Over my 20 year teaching career, I continuously have found myself disappointed with my students¹ initial level of commitment to, engagement in and responsibility for their learning and development as they entJME_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpger my course.  Just as Lencioni (2002) identifies a lack of commitment as one the five dysfunctions of a team, a low level of student commitment to a course has a significant negative impact on students¹ learning and educational experience, as well as on instructors¹ professional gratification (Jenster & Duncan, 1987). For many, it is as if education has become something that is happening to students rather than something that they actively and intentionally engage in to achieve some purpose beyond getting a good grade and course credit, preferably with a minimal amount of effort.

In our article, Kevin Cooper and I present a response to student disengagement in the form of a shared-purpose process. Although initially conceived to increase students¹ commitment to and engagement in their learning and development, as the shared-purpose process was employed it became apparent that it was also a form of experiential/case-in-point learning (Heifetz, 1994; Heifetz & Linsky,2002) that is relevant to leadership, team and organizational development courses, as establishment of and commitment to a shared purpose and organizing context is important to becoming an effective team or organization.  In addition, once a shared purpose is established and committed to by students and teacher, it can provide a guiding framework through which to facilitate additional partnership and in-class experiential learning opportunities.

In contrast to other student-directed learning methodologies, the shared-purpose process takes into account the social, as well the cognitive, aspects of learning. In addition, it helps students proactively identify and develop strategies to address hindrances to their learning. Over the course of the semester, students¹ self-transformation is facilitated through their weekly engagement in self-reflection (Kolb, 1984; Schön, 1983), self-reflexivity (Cunliffe, 2004; Cunliffe & Easterby-Smith, 2004), peer coaching, and a cogenerative dialogue (Martin, 2006; Stith & Roth, 2006). Cogenerative dialogue allows students to learn from their classmates¹ experiences, as well as their own direct experience.

In addition to being successfully employed in undergraduate and MBA leadership and team courses, this shared purpose process has also be employed in teams and organizations to improve members¹ engagement, commitment and performance, and once the shared purpose has been established, it can be used as a structure to facilitate collaboration and productively work through conflict.

References:

Cunliffe, A.  (2004). “On becoming a critically reflexive practitioner.”Journal of Management Education, 28(4), 407-426.
Cunliffe, A. and Easterby-Smith, M. (2004). “From reflection of practicalreflexivity: Experiential learning as lived experience.” In M. Reynolds and R. Vince (Eds.) Organizing Reflection, Ashgate: Aldershot, 30-46.
Heifetz, R. A. (1994). Leadership without easy answers. Cambridge, Mass:
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Heifetz, R. A., & Linsky, M. (2002). Leadership on the line: staying alive through the dangers of leading. Boston, Mass, Harvard Business School Press.
Jenster, P. V. & Duncan, D. D. (1987).  “Creating a context of commitment:
Course agreements as a foundation.” Journal of Management Education, 11(3): 60-71.
Martin, S.  (2006). “Where practice and theory intersect in the chemistry classroom: using cogenerative dialogue to identify the critical point in science education.” Cultural Studies of Science Education, 1 (4), 693-720.
Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Lencioni, P. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team: A leadership fable, Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.
Schön, D.  (1983). The reflective practitioner.  London: Temple Smith.
Stith,I. & Roth, W-M. (2006). “Who gets to ask the questions: The ethics in/of cogenerative dialogue praxis.” [46 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum:  Qualitative Social Research, 7(2).

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Lessons from history: What the Dutch East India Company can teach us about modern-day organizational slack

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Stoyan V Sgourev of ESSEC Business School, France and Wim van Lent of Montpellier Business School, France, who recently published the article When too many are not enough: Human resource slack and performance at the Dutch East India Company (1700‒1795) in Human Relations.] 
HUM 70_1_Cover_ONLINE1.inddIt is only recently that scholars started to inquire into whether it makes sense to employ more workers than needed to attend to routine operations but the question appears to be much older than recognized.

As a pioneer of intercontinental trade and the largest employer in the Dutch Republic, the Dutch East India Company (1602 ‒1795) needed a large workforce to maintain and develop its shipping network. The rapid expansion of its merchant fleet in the early 18th century exhausted the local labor supply, forcing the Company to hire unskilled foreign sailors. Our analysis of data from the Dutch East India Company archives confirms that skill shortage resulted in deteriorating operational and financial performance. We find that the Dutch East India Company’s directors addressed the problem by “overmanning” the ships (boarding more sailors than what is operationally required), when foreign sailors prevailed in the ranks. The analysis attests that the Dutch East India Company’s reliance on extra sailors involved a direct trade-off, as it enhanced operational reliability (by reducing the probability of losing the ship at sea), but reduced operational efficiency  (by prolonging the length of voyages, as the ships were heavier and the crews were less experienced).

In view of the underlying trade-off between speed and safety, the Dutch East India Company’s efforts to mitigate the negative effects of skill shortage were only partly successful. The use of extra sailors to offset the adverse effects of unskilled labor was a natural solution at a time when formal training was inadequate while cheap, unskilled labor was available. But the documented trade-off has contemporary resonance. Scholarship suggests that firms can balance between effectiveness and efficiency in reaching optimum performance, yet our analysis advises caution as to the extent to which organizational practices can be optimized. The Dutch East India Company directors faced the same need to balance competing pressures for efficiency and reliability as contemporary managers, and the same difficulty of identifying the coveted optimal point.

The findings also serve as a reminder that, even when overall successful, gradual adaptation may not be sufficient to resolve long-standing problems. The documented practice was an adaptive, stopgap measure that evolved from practical experience and that functioned well under the existing constraints. It alleviated the problem of skill shortage, but in the long run, it did not help resolve the structural problems that brought about the Dutch East India Company’s demise toward the end of the 18th century.

Two centuries later, the Dutch East India Company remains a source of insights into processes of adaptation and change. Similar to contemporary managers, the Dutch East India Company directors struggled to achieve a balance between operating efficiently and retaining surplus resources, necessary to address unexpected threats and opportunities. It was the first company to internationalize its workforce and confront the difficulties of operating in multiple locations, but not the last one to have found these difficulties more persistent than expected. In some respects, management practice has not changed much since the 18th century.

You can read  When too many are not enough: Human resource slack and performance at the Dutch East India Company (1700‒1795) from Human Relations free until the end of March by clicking here.

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How Surveys Provide Integrated Communication Skills

“Excuse me, can you spare a  a few minutes? We’re conducting a survey and would greatly appreciate your responses.” You’ve most likely heard these two sentences presented to you as you’re walking briskly down a crowded street. The Internet is also a crowded street full of news, but we hope you can spare a few minutes to read about the latest research from Business and Professional Communication Quarterly.

Author Anne Witte of EDHEC Business School, France, recently published a paper in BCQ entitled “Tackling the survey: A learning-by-induction design,”where she outlines the different learning outcomes that surveys afford. Below, Witte describes her inspiration for the study:]

  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

Our world is filled with surveys, yet surveys are often a negl4453697565_dcacd29f08_z.jpgected area in business training and often taught as a kind of mechanical application task which has more to do with software than with thinking.  As qualitative and quantitative data are the basis for business and organizations today, I wanted to train students more in the “art” rather than the “science” of the survey.

  • Were there findings that were surprising to you?

Students are often overconfident in their ability to do a survey task from A to Z.  When you challenge them with an interesting question to answer through a survey, they discover on their own how difficult it really is to obtain quality data that can be used to make decisions.

  • How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

I love testing new teaching paradigms with advanced business students and especially using interdisciplinary thought experiments that oblige students to draw from previous knowledge and varied skills sets.

Don’t forget to sign up for email alerts on the BCQ homepage. 

Survey photo attributed to Plings (CC).

 

Mobile or Not? Assessing the Instructional Value of Mobile Learning

[We’re pleased to welcome author Catherine Nickerson of Zayed University, UAE.  Nickerson recently published an article in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly entitled “Mobile or Not? Assessing the Instructional Value of Mobile Learning,” co-authored by Chrysi Rapanta and Valerie Priscilla Goby. From Nickerson:]

We became interested in this topic, partly because our university is keen to increase the use of mobile learning across the curriculum, but also because we know that our students – all young Emirati nationals – are very familiar with all forms of new media. We know that in adopting mobile learning 23887038194_2071dd9149_z.jpgin our business communication classes, we are tapping into their already existing skills, and at the same time, we are providing them with additional practice in multi-tasking, and the multi-media, communication skills that they are likely to need once they enter the workforce. However, in addition to the obvious advantages that are associated with student motivation and mobile learning that we established in our previous research, we also wanted to find out if mobile learning would actually help our students to improve their performance.

Our students’ performance on a particular topic improved, when their time in the classroom included mobile learning and also when it didn’t, as long as the teaching that they received was specifically focused. At the same time, the students that received a mobile learning intervention were more likely to perform better than the students in a control group who were not given any specific teaching, than those students who were taught in a traditional way. This meant that in introducing mobile learning, we could expect our students to be more motivated, we could expect them to further develop a set of useful skills, and we could expect them to potentially improve their performance. In the future we aim to incorporate more mobile learning into our business communication classes, while at the same time, continuing to investigate the effect that mobile learning has.

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Classroom photo attributed to Catalyst Open Source (CC).

 

#OSEditorPicks: Constructing and responding to paradox through humor

[We are pleased to welcome Trish Reay, Editor-in-Chief of Organization Studies.]

oss-_38_2Humor is an important aspect of most workplaces, and yet few researchers have delved into understanding how humor impacts the way people do their work. In the #OSEditorPicks for March We have to do this and that? You must be joking: Constructing and responding to paradox through humor an article appearing in Organization Studies’ soon to be released special issue on Paradox, Paula Jarzabkowski and Jane Lê show us how humor matters. As part of their ethnographic study of changes in a telecommunications firm, they noticed that people made a lot of jokes about paradoxical conditions. Intrigued with what people were laughing about and how humor seemed to be integral to practice, the authors engaged in a deep and insightful analysis of conversations that happened in 71 team meetings they observed over a 2 year time period. They found that humor was a critical component of responding to paradox – it contributed to both (1) entrenching responses and (2) shifting responses to paradoxical issues.

This is a great article because it raises attention to an important but commonly overlooked phenomenon of organizational life – humor. In addition, it provides a truly stellar example of what we can learn from studying how people do their everyday work. This is an important article for everyone who wants to learn more about micro-level interactions and how people matter in managing paradox.

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You can read We have to do this and that? You must be joking: Constructing and responding to paradox through humor from Organization Studies free for the next 30 days by clicking here. Want to stay current on all of the latest research published by Organization Studies? Visit the homepage here and sign up for email alerts!