Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Self-Ratings of Workplace Behaviour: Contrasting Russia and Poland with the United States

Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Self-Ratings of Workplace Behaviour: Contrasting Russia and Poland with the United States

Article excerpt

This study examines the self-rating appraisal process, assessing the ratings made by the subordinate and the supervisor. Others have proposed that employees in collectivist countries tend to give harsher ratings of themselves than their supervisors, based on data from Taiwan. Conflicting results from more recent Chinese studies have cast doubt on this hypothesis. The present study tests this proposition on data collected in the U.S. and two other collectivist countries, Poland and Russia. ANCOVA results indicate that, as expected, the Polish self-ratings show a harshness bias, but the Russian findings tend to show a leniency effect and the U.S. results tend to show a harshness bias.

Human resource (HR) scholars (e.g., Elenkov, 1998) have advocated for the adoption of performance appraisals in Eastern European firms. Knowing more about where and how different appraisal practices are effective will help HR practitioners in these firms to develop appropriate appraisal systems. This study addresses one aspect of Western-style performance appraisals (i.e., employee self-ratings) using data from Russian, Polish, and U.S. firms.

Ratings completed on one's own performance, otherwise known as self-ratings, are used to improve communication between supervisors and employees in the appraisal meeting. Prior research, however, indicates that self-ratings and the boss' ratings can be expected to disagree. Biased self-ratings has been reported in the U.S. self-rating literature (Harris & Schaubroeck, 1988) and also in international studies done in Taiwan (Farh, Dobbins, & Cheng, 1991) and China (Yu & Murphy, 1993). Therefore, it is necessary to understand the presence, magnitude, and direction of bias when using such ratings in other countries, such as Poland and Russia.

Self-Rating Research in the International Setting

Three notable studies (Farh et al., 1991; Furnham & Stringfield, 1994; Yu & Murphy, 1993) examined self-ratings and corresponding supervisory ratings in a cross-cultural context. Farh et al. (1991) found that Taiwanese employees rated their own performance more harshly than did their bosses. That is, a modesty bias in these Taiwanese self-ratings was detected when the ratings were compared with the supervisor's ratings of the worker. Farh et al. (1991) attributed this modesty bias in self-ratings to collectivist values rooted in the Taiwanese culture. Because collectivist cultures emphasize harmony in relationships (e.g., Hofstede, 2001), there is pressure for workers to understate individual accomplishments and exhibit personal modesty, thus yielding lower-than-expected self-ratings. Providing added support for this, Markus and Kitayama (1991) stated that persons in interdependent cultures tend to be oriented to others instead of the self, and such self-other construal may yield a habitual modest-response tendency.

In an attempt to replicate Farh et al.'s (1991) findings in another collectivist culture, mainland China, Yu and Murphy (1993) found self-ratings to be significantly higher for the Chinese employees when compared to their supervisors' ratings. The modesty bias found in Farh et al.'s (1991) Taiwan study did not surface in Yu and Murphy's (1993) mainland China study. In fact, the opposite was observed. A third international study of self-ratings was conducted in a Hong Kong-based airline. In this study, Furnham and Stringfield (1994) found that the self-ratings and supervisor ratings did not differ for the Chinese (i.e., Cantonese) sample. In sum, three different studies of Chinese self-raters have yielded remarkably different results.

It appears then that further study of possible differences in self-ratings between national cultures is warranted. The question of whether a collectivist cultural orientation produces a modesty or leniency effect or, even no effect at all on self-ratings, would benefit from a study done in other collectivist countries than those using Chinese subjects. …

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