Social Context of Performance Appraisals in Public Parks and Recreation: A Statewide Study


  • Michael Mulvaney Illinois State University
  • Mike Kianicka Illinois State University



Employee participation model, human resource management, performance appraisals, public parks and recreation management, supervisor trust


Well-designed performance appraisals provide a formal evaluation system to measure employees’ contributions to the agency while motivating staff and enhancing productivity levels. Despite their prominence and popularity, performance appraisal systems are often a contentious activity within public park and recreation agencies. Appraisal literature has indicated that many of these frustrations stem from issues such as (1) criteria that is not job related, (2) unclear or confusing rating levels, and/or (3) poorly designed processes and inconsistent implementation techniques. Recent research has also suggested many of these issues might be linked to the social dimensions surrounding the appraisal system. The purpose of this study was to build upon the previous appraisal research in public parks and recreation by exploring the role of two process proximal social context factors (employee participation and supervisor trust) on the utility of the appraisal system. More specifically, the cumulative effects of employee participation at various stages (job analysis, instrument development, appraisal interview, and training related to the appraisal system) and employees’ perceptions of their supervisor on employees’ reactions to their agency’s appraisal system were examined. Analyses indicated supervisor trust and employee participation significantly contributed to public park and recreation professionals’ satisfaction with their appraisal system, satisfaction with their appraisal interview, and their procedural and distributive justice perceptions with their appraisal system. Study findings and implications for management are discussed.

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