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Line management involvement in performance appraisal work: Toward a practice-based understanding

Journal article
Authors Daniel Tyskbo
Published in Employee Relations
Volume 42
Issue 3
Pages 818-844
ISSN 0142-5455
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Business Administration, Management & Organisation
Pages 818-844
Language en
Keywords HRM, Performance Appraisal, Line Manager, HR Devolution, Implementation, HRM-as-practice, Practice-based perspective
Subject categories Business Administration


Line managers have come to play an important role in HRM as more core personnel tasks are devolved to them; however, despite advancements in the literature, the scholarly debate is still limited in three important ways. First, there is a tendency, in existing research, to focus on which practices line managers are involved in, and to which extent. However, how such involvement unfolds in practice, through day-to-day activities, merits more attention. Second, the majority of studies have focused on a single perspective within the organization. Third, HR practices are often clustered into HR systems, thus ignoring the potential variances between different HR practices. This paper attempts to address these limitations by adopting an in-depth case study of the involvement of line managers in a specific HR practice, i.e. performance appraisal (PA), from a multi-actor perspective based on interviews with HR managers, line managers and employees, and organizational documents. The findings illustrate how line managers faced three types of complexities during implementation, i.e. dilemmas, understandings, and local adaptations. These jointly contributed to a divergence arising between the PA as intended and the PA as implemented. This divergence became associated with how line management involvement was restricted to the local context and the initial stages of the PA process, highlighting how HR practices can contain both devolved and non-devolved elements.

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