Academic journal article International Journal of Employment Studies

Affective Events and Emotions during Performance Management Processes: A Study of General Workers in Malaysia

Academic journal article International Journal of Employment Studies

Affective Events and Emotions during Performance Management Processes: A Study of General Workers in Malaysia

Article excerpt


Performance management is commonly viewed as a human resource (HR) operation to set performance goals, to monitor achievement and to relate achievement to rewards for workers. However, from the view of work and occupational psychologists, the performance management system is a social process embedded within broader organisational settings (Aguinis & Pierce, 2008; Ferris, Munyon, Basik, & Buckley, 2008; Verbos, Miller, & Goswami, 2014), involving and influencing the interpersonal dynamics between workers and supervisors, workers and organisations, and co-workers especially when team performance is institutionalised (Aguinis, Gottfredson, & Joo, 2013). Researchers have argued for a need for a more socio-psychological approach to performance management system (Aguinis & Pierce, 2008; Ashkanasy & Dorris, 2017; Ferris et al., 2008; Levy, Tseng, Rosen, & Lueke, 2017; Levy & Williams, 2004), such as the need to understand how performance management processes are affected by political, social and affective contexts (Ferris et al., 2008; Mitchell, 2010; Sims, Gioia, & Longenecker, 1987; Tschan, Semmer, Messerli, & Janevski, 2010).

Appraising a worker's performance is conceivably an emotional experience (Ferris et al., 2008; Geddes & Baron, 1997; Sims et al., 1987). Martin and Tesser (1996)'s ruminative thoughts theory suggested that individuals are likely to contemplate about events related to performance appraisal, eliciting a variety of emotional responses depending on how they view its implications for performance and their relationships (Beal, Weiss, Barros, & MacDermid, 2005). For example, a supervisor is likely to feel reluctant to inform a subordinate about his poor ratings especially when the subordinate is someone he knows. At the same time, an employee may experience an array of emotions, be it positive or negative depending on the experience, process and outcome of the performance appraisal.

Weiss and Cropanzano (1996) developed the Affective Event Theory (AET) model and described how affective events can lead to affective responses (e.g., emotions). These cumulative emotional responses will in turn affect work attitudes and behaviours . Affective events are defined as incidents that stimulates appraisal of and emotional reaction to a transitory or ongoing job related agent, object or occurrence (Basch & Fisher, 1998, p.3). Affective events thus differ from emotions as emotions are outcomes of affective events. On the same note, Ferris et al. (2008) proposed a model on how workers' emotional responses were related to the relational satisfaction and relationship quality between ratees and raters (see Figure 1). According to this model, the characteristics of performance management systems engender ratees' affective responses (i.e., emotions) and subsequently influence the satisfaction about work relationships.

This study aims to construct an event-emotion matrix that shows the relationship between categories of affective event and the corresponding emotions experienced by Malaysian general workers during the performance management processes. Specifically we seek to answer the following research objective,

What affective events during performance management processes cause workers to experience specific emotions?

This study is to contribute to knowledge on the causes and the consequences of affective responses, especially for Malaysian context. Malaysian general workers play a significant role in the national labour force, contributing significantly to the country's GDP. Often marginalised and paid with minimal wages (PayScale, 2019), this group of workers often have a sceptical view about performance management systems. Hence, understanding emotions during performance appraisals help organisations develop strategies to avoid negative affective events and promote positive affective events; indirectly, improving workers' work attitudes and psychological well-being in the workplace (Fox & Spector, 2002). …

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