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Abstract

Performance appraisals have traditionally been directed at individuals, serving either an administrative or developmental purpose. They may serve a role definition purpose as well. This study sought to identify and more broadly define the purposes of performance appraisals to include this role definition purpose. Furthermore, this study examined purposes of performance appraisals as perceived by the role incumbent, as opposed to the stated organizational purposes. The relationships between these perceived purposes with several attitudinal outcomes, including satisfaction with the performance appraisal, job satisfaction, affective commitment, and role ambiguity, are reported. Data from 599 retail service employees were used to test the hypothesized relationships. Results suggested support for a model consisting of three performance appraisal purposes having differential relationships with the outcomes examined, suggesting the purpose of the performance appraisal may influence ratees' perceptions of and attitudes toward their jobs.