• performance assessment;
  • supervisor/subordinate relations


This study reviews and meta-analyzes the literature on the social context of performance appraisal. Results indicate that aspects of rater-ratee relationship quality (i.e., supervisor satisfaction, supervisor support, supervisor trust) are strongly related to ratee reactions to performance appraisals. Rater-ratee relationship quality is more strongly related to appraisal reactions than appraisal participation or performance ratings. Integrating social exchange theory with procedural justice theory, this article tested whether or not the relationship quality–appraisal reactions relationship was due to relationships between relationship quality and instrumental resources for the ratee (i.e., appraisal participation and rating favorability). When controlling for relationships between these resources and appraisal reactions, a direct path between relationship quality and reactions was significant, supporting a relational model of the exchange between appraisal partners. The relationship quality–appraisal reaction relationship was not moderated by performance rating favorability or appraisal participation. In total, these results highlight the importance of relationship quality to employee reactions to performance appraisal—and the importance of ratee reactions as an important resource in the social exchange between appraisal partners. Implications for theory, practice, and future research are discussed. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.