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Coens, T., & Jenkins M. (2000).  Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why They Backfire and What to Do Instead.
"These various forms of appraisal are packaged as tools for 'accountability' rather than control. We are comfortable with accountability, but not control—only monsters seek control. Our comfort with accountability is not misplaced. It's a worthy goal, at least to the extent that it means people should take responsibility for their work. The problem lies not in desiring accountability, but in the means of ensuring accountability. Rather than promoting accountability as a value, we try to force people to be responsible. We impose measurement and formal judgment to make sure that people are held accountable. This is precisely what appraisal does. With good intentions, we adorn appraisal with upbeat and friendly terminology, but the features of control are undeniably present and felt by every employee who undergoes the process. Peter Block's observations accurately depict the reality of appraisal.
Peter Block's Observations on Appraisal
Performance appraisals are an instrument for social control. They are annual discussions, avoided more often than held, in which one adult identifies for another adult three improvement areas to work on over the next twelve months. You can soften them all you want, call them development discussions, have them on a regular basis, have the subordinate identify the improvement areas instead of the boss, and discuss values. None of this changes the basic transaction .... if the intent of appraisal is learning, it is not going to happen when the context of the dialogue is evaluation and judgment.
" (p. 82)
Aguayo, R. (1991).  Dr. Deming: The American Who Taught the Japanese About Quality.
"Some writers call for greater accountability. The computer is seen as the sure way out of our problems by providing management with intricate details about each person's performance. All these views are wrong!" (p. 93)
Pfeffer, J. (1998).  The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First.
Pfeffer reviews studies that "make a business case for managing people right". Among the factors that cause trouble for companies trying to implement such change, are: "Demands for accountability and reproducibility in results and decisions that destroy the benefits of expertise, which is inevitably dependent on tacit knowledge." (p. 132)
McGregor, D. (1967).  The Professional Manager.
"Another device, common to many managerial control systems, that is likely to induce threat is represented by the concept of 'accountability'. The logic of accountability within the framework of conventional managerial principles is clear. However, it takes relatively little experience with or observation of this principle in everyday organizational life to recognize that its practical use is to discover and punish noncompliance with externally imposed standards and controls. The real meaning in practice of the principle of accountability is: 'Find out who goofed'." (p. 121)
Trompenaars, A., & Hampden-Turner C. (1998).  Riding the waves of culture : understanding cultural diversity in global business.
"In the original American concept of internal and external sources of control, the implication is that the outer-directed person is offering an excuse for failure rather than a new wisdom. In other nations it is not seen as personal weakness to acknowledge the strength of external forces or the arbitrariness of events." (p. 149)
Gladwell, M. (2002).  The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.
"The mistake we make in thinking of character as something unified and all-encompassing is very similar to a kind of blind spot in the way we process information. Psychologists call this tendency the Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE), which is a fancy way of saying that when it comes to interpreting other people's behavior, human beings invariably make the mistake of overestimating the importance of fundamental character traits and underestimating the importance of the situation and context. We will always reach for a 'dispositional' explanation for events, as opposed to a contextual explanation."

See also: appraisal, blame, performance, control, responsibility

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SKOS Concept Scheme

SKOS concepts and relations

Concept Scheme: business culture/management vocabulary

URI: business culture/management vocabulary


  • Concept: accountability
    • preferred: accountability
    • definition: responsibility to someone or for some activity
    • related: appraisal
    • related: blame
    • related: performance
    • related: control
    • related: responsibility
    • closeMatch:
    • keyword-98
    • linked content:
      • sense: accountability
      • sense: answerability
      • sense: answerableness
      • accountability
      • in scheme:
      • gloss: responsibility to someone or for some activity
      • hyponym of:
      • synset id: 104669828
  • W3C SKOS spec
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