Absolute vs Relative Performance Rating Formats: Implications for fairness and organizational justice



The choice of performance rating format may influence employees' fairness perceptions. Participants in two studies, one consisting of 208 participants and the other of 393 participants, evaluated the fairness of common relative and absolute rating formats. The participants in the second study also evaluated the fairness of two rating formats, one absolute and one relative, presented in organizational contexts of varying procedural and distributive justice. Results indicate that not only are absolute formats perceived as more fair than relative formats, but differences in fairness perceptions also occur among relative and absolute formats. Furthermore, it appears that rating format influences procedural justice, especially when outcomes are perceived as fair. Implications for organizations' appraisal practices are discussed.