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What can we learn from performance assessment?: The system and practice in an academic library

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this study is to promote a better understanding of performance assessment (PA) as a managerial means via analyses and discussion of the system and practice in an academic library. Design/methodology/approach ‐ One existing PA system of a university library is presented. Descriptive analyses of two specific system-inherent problems, respectively: weighting scheme of the evaluated criteria and disqualification of the immediate supervisor as rater, are conducted. The purpose of PA is addressed with reference to PA and pay linkage. Circular supervision as an effective element to ultimately eliminate individual errors in an administration is discussed. Findings ‐ The PA system and practice of CL are flawed. First, the weighting scheme of the evaluated categories is so allocated that the least measurable category has the overriding power. Second, the most qualified evaluator (the direct supervisor) is deprived of the numeric rating vote. Third, the end ratings from the PA lead to unfair merit compensation decisions and salary inequity. Finally, the system lacks a circular supervision mechanism to eliminate undefeatable power in the administration. Originality/value ‐ With concrete examples and data, this study brings to light some serious problems that exist in a PA system. Via in-depth analyses and discussion of specific issues, it touches upon circular supervision, a core element in a sound administration that needs to be adequately addressed.
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Keywords: Administration; Assessment; Librarians; Management effectiveness

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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