Review of Managerial Science

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 141–157 | Cite as

Social ties and subjective performance evaluations: an empirical investigation

Original Paper


We empirically investigate possible distortions in subjective performance evaluations. A key hypothesis is that evaluations are more upward biased the closer the social ties between supervisor and appraised employee. We test this hypothesis with a company data set from a call center organization which contains not only subjective assessments but also several more objective measures of performance. Controlling for these performance measures, we find strong evidence that evaluations are upwards biased in smaller teams and some evidence that supervisors give better ratings to employees they themselves have evaluated before.


Subjective performance evaluation Bias Social ties Team size Favoritism 

Mathematics Subject Classification

62H12 62J05 



We thank two anonymous referees for helpful comments and suggestions. Petra Nieken gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, in particular grant SFB TR/15.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences, Seminar of Personnel Economics and HRMUniversity of CologneCologneGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Applied MicroeconomicsUniversity of BonnBonnGermany

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