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Annu Rev Psychol. 2005;56:571-600.

Personnel psychology: performance evaluation and pay for performance.

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  • 1Department of Management & Organizations, Tippie College of Business, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Although there is a voluminous psychological literature on performance evaluation (PE), surprisingly little of this research examines the consequences of linking pay to evaluated performance in work settings. Rather, PE research has been dominated by cognitive processing, measurement, and construct validity issues. At the same time, a large literature on pay-for-performance (PFP) linkages does exist, but most of it has been conducted in disciplines other than psychology. We think this pattern should change. To this end, we briefly trace the origins of the general separation of PE research from PFP research in psychology. From there, we review recent research on the relationship between PE and performance improvement, particularly with respect to multisource or 360-degree evaluation. We then turn to research on various PFP systems, such as merit pay and individual and group incentives. We conclude with suggestions as to how psychological research can make useful contributions to knowledge of PE, PFP, and performance improvement.

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