Critical determinants influencing employee reactions to multisource feedback systems
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The current study examines the Multisource Feedback (MSF) system by investigating the impact several MSF design and implementation factors have on employees’ reaction towards the system. The fundamental goal of the research was to advance the understanding of what is currently known about effectively implementing multisource feedback systems to maximize employee favorable reaction, acceptance and perceptions of usefulness.Of the many management feedback trends that have swept organizations in the past decade, few have had the outstanding impact of MSF. Despite the numerous studies on MSF, perusal of empirical literature lacks overall cohesion in identifying critical factors influencing employees’ reactions to MSF. The constructs examined were delimited to those found to have inherent paradoxes, insufficient coverage, be inconclusive and/or have contradictory findings in the extant literature.A series of main research questions, underscoring the main goal of the study, were developed from the gaps identified in literature to establish which predictors were predominant in influencing the employees’ reactions, acceptance and perceptions of usefulness towards the MSF system. These research questions were formed into hypotheses for testing. The relationships to be tested were integrated into a hypothetical model which encompassed four sub-models to be tested. The models, named the Climate, Reaction, Reaction-Acceptance, Reaction-Perceptions of Usefulness and Acceptance-Perceptions of Usefulness Models were tested in parts using a combination of exploratory factor analysis, correlation analysis and multiple regressions. Further, key informants from each organization and HR managers in three large organizations provided post-survey feedback and information to assist with the elucidation of quantitative findings; this represented the pluralist approach taken in the study.Survey items were derived from extant literature as well as developed specifically for the study. Further, the items were refined using expert reviewers and a pilot study. A cross-sectional web-based survey was administered to employees from a range of managerial levels in three large Malaysian multinational organizations. A total of 420 useable surveys were received, representing a response rate of 47%.Self-report data was used to measure the constructs which were perceptions of the various facets of the MSF. An empirical methodology was used to test the hypotheses to enable the research questions to be answered and to suggest a final model of Critical Determinants Influencing Employee Reaction to MSF Systems.The study was conducted in six phases. In the first phase, a literature map was drawn highlighting the gaps in empirical research. In the second stage, a hypothetical model of employees’ reaction to MSF was developed from past empirical research and literature on MSF. The third phase involved drafting a survey questionnaire on the basis of available literature, with input from academics and practitioners alike. The fourth stage entailed pilot testing the survey instrument using both the ‘paper and pencil’ and web-based methods. The surveys were administered with the assistance of the key informants of the participant organizations in the fifth stage of the study; data received were analysed using a range of statistical tools within SPSS version 15. Content analysis was utilized to categorize themes that emerged from an open-ended question. In the sixth and final stage, empirical results from the quantitative analysis were presented to HR managers to glean first hand understanding over the patterns that emerged.Exploratory factor analysis and reliability analysis indicated that the surveyinstrument was sound in terms of validity and reliability. In the Climate model, itwas found that all the hypothesized predictors, feedback-seeking environment,control over organizational processes, understanding over organizational events,operational support and political awareness were positively associated withpsychological climate for MSF implementation. In terms of predictive power, controlover organizational processes failed to attain significance at the 5% level. In theReaction model, it was found that perceived purpose, perceived anonymity,complexity and rater assignment processes had significant associations withemployee reaction to MSF, but perceived anonymity indicated poor predictive powerfrom the regressions results. As hypothesized, employee reaction was found to be related to MSF acceptance and perceptions of usefulness, and results indicated thatthe two latter outcome constructs were related, but statistically distinct.The two-tier pluralist technique of collecting and examining data was a salient feature of the current study. Indeed, such a holistic approach to investigating the determinants of employee reaction to MSF allowed for better integration of its theory and practice. The study is believed to make a modest, but unique contribution to knowledge, advancing the body of knowledge towards a better understanding of MSF design and implementation issues.The results have implications for calibrating MSF systems and evaluating the needfor, and likely effectiveness of, what has been hailed as one of the powerful newmodels for management feedback in the past two decades. Suggestions were madeabout how the results could benefit academia and practitioners alike. Since mostorganizational and management research has a western ethnocentric bias, the current study encompassed eastern evidence, using cases in Malaysia.
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