Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD)

Degree Level





Christopher C. Rosen

Committee Member

Nina Gupta

Second Committee Member

John E. Delery


Social sciences; Intentional rating distortion; Performance appraisal; Performance ratings; Rater motivation; Social contextual factors


Performance appraisal research (e.g., Longenecker, Sims, & Gioia, 1987; Wang, Wong, & Kwong, 2010) suggests that inaccuracies in performance ratings are largely a result of intentional rating distortion, or rater motivation. Researchers have noted that raters sometimes have multiple and conflicting goals when providing performance ratings (e.g., Murphy, Cleveland, Kinney, Skattebo, Newman, & Sin, 2003). According to rater goal theory (e.g., Cleveland & Murphy, 1992), rater goals are influenced by the performance appraisal context, mediating the relationship between the context of performance appraisal and performance ratings. Studies suggest that the context affects performance ratings, but conceptualizations of the performance appraisal context (e.g., rating purpose) have been narrow, neglecting the Social aspects inherent in performance appraisal (Kozlowski, Chao, & Morrison, 1998; Levy & Williams, 2004). As such, we lack a clear understanding of what the key Social contextual factors are and how they affect rater motivation and performance ratings.

To design effective interventions to improve rating accuracy, we first need to understand the strength and direction of these influences (Spence & Keeping, 2010). Therefore, the present study considers how key Social contextual factors (i.e., the rater's supervisor and subordinate group) independently and simultaneously affect rater motivation and performance ratings. Expectancy theory (Porter & Lawler, 1968; Vroom, 1964) is used to make predictions about the effects of the rater's supervisor and group on rater motivation and performance ratings. Expectancy theory is then integrated with Social impact theory (Latané, 1981) to develop hypotheses regarding their interactive effects. Furthermore, both rating inflation and rating deflation, which has received limited research attention, are explicitly addressed. The results of the present study provide some evidence that the key Social contextual factors interact to influence rater motivation and performance ratings. Additionally, the results provide empirical support for different effects of information encouraging high versus low performance ratings. The findings are discussed in detail, along with theoretical and practical implications, and directions for future research.