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Performance Management: Embracing Complexity, Evading Reductionism, and Moving to Outcome-Based Approaches

  • Shonna D. Waters (a1), Wayne A. Baughman (a1) and David W. Dorsey (a1)

Adler et al. (2016) open with a summary of the business case driving our field to change and close by providing principles for accomplishing that change, where they conclude that “there is no right answer to the ratings question” (p. 244). Lying between the opening and closing sections is a series of arguments for and against today's performance rating status quo, arguments illustrating just what happens when too many years are spent seeking answers along too narrow a path. In this commentary, we provide additional support for the strategy- and outcome-driven approach to performance management advocated in the article. In addition, we offer ideas for what has contributed to getting us and keeping us where we are. Unless we understand what has driven performance ratings research and practice to be the object of an intense and lengthy debate, these same forces may well drive us to carry out years-long experiments of questionable value along similarly narrow paths. We want to offer our views on how to foster outcome-based practice more broadly.

Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Shonna D. Waters, 2022 North Taylor Street, Arlington, VA 22207. E-mail:
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Adler, S., Campion, M., Colquitt, A., Grubb, A., Murphy, K., Ollander-Krane, R., & Pulakos, E. D. (2016). Getting rid of performance ratings: Genius or folly? A debate. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice, 9 (2), 219252.
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Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • ISSN: 1754-9426
  • EISSN: 1754-9434
  • URL: /core/journals/industrial-and-organizational-psychology
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