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360 degree feedback: how many raters are needed for reliable ratings on the capacity to develop competences, with personal qualities as developmental goals?

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360 degree feedback is a widely used technique in the area of strategic human resource management (SHRM) and strategic human resource development (SHRD). The reliability of 360 degree feedback on the capacity to develop personal qualities has been investigated. This study shows to what extent the number of raters is related to an increasing reliability and an enhancement of correlation between supervisor and peer ratings. Ten raters are needed to reach a satisfying reliability level of 0.7 for the rating of the capacity to develop personal qualities, while six raters are needed for a reliability level of 0.7 with regard to the rating of motivation to develop these qualities. The use of two or three peer raters, as is common in the daily HRM/HRD practice, results in low reliability levels and in low agreement between supervisor and peer ratings. These results imply that 360 degree feedback is more useful in a personal growth system than in an administrative system, where the outcomes of the feedback are considered to be objective representations of work behaviour. Further implications for the SHRM/SHRD practice, especially concerning the development of competences, with personal qualities as developmental goals, are discussed.

Keywords: 360 degree feedback; competence development; personal qualities; rating; reliability; supervisor peer agreement

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Research Group of Professional Development in Vocational and Organisational Learning, The Hague University of Professional Development, The Hague, The Netherlands 2: Institute of Psychology, Methodology and Statistics Unit, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands 3: Department of Organisational Psychology and Human Resource Development, Twente University, Enschede, The Netherlands

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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