Document Type

Theses, Masters


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

Publication Details

Thesis submitted for the award of Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) (by research) to the Technological University Dublin, May 2016.


This is a study of performance management (PM) that examines its comparative practice in the Republic of Ireland, as influenced by its expansion from the private sector to the public equivalent. The research objectives of this study are to establish the level of incidence of PM practice in both sectors, to consider how PM is practised, including the mechanisms employed, to determine the objectives of the PM processes for these organisations and to ascertain the comparative perceived impact and effectiveness of PM. It was established that there was a gap of nine years since the last quantitative analysis of the subject matter in Ireland had been conducted. A random sample based on five strata was deployed for the purpose of the primary research. A self-administered questionnaire was distributed nationwide in 2007/08 to 499 organisations, yielding a 41% (n=204) useable response rate. The findings confirm a high level of PM practice in Ireland, particularly in the public sector. Probably the most significant discovery, however, is that the vast majority of respondents believe PM to be effective. Nevertheless, its level of effectiveness is deemed significantly higher in private sector. The top three objectives of performance management systems (PMS) across both sectors are to agree key objectives, improve future performance and provide feedback on current or past performance. The survey evidence also reveals the main inhibitors of PM to be the perceived lack of follow up and support by management to agreed PM outcomes, failure to review or monitor the system and the presence of too much paperwork. Both sectors are in accord regarding the key goal of their system, which is to agreeing key objectives with staff. Hence, it was also established that ‘objective setting’ was the most popular and effective mechanism or scheme type of appraisal used. Of the features of PM, performance-related pay (PRP) is growing in the private sector, and, it is considered by researcher that this study offers for the first time, empirical evidence of its presence in the public sector. This research has successfully filled the research gap of nine years on PM practice in Ireland in both the private and public sector. It demonstrates to the reader the advances made by both sectors in this regard over the past 50 years. The research has been limited by an absence of analysis of PM vis à vis a number of areas such as the management of change, high performance work systems, employee engagement, the separation of performance review from the pay review and how to manage the underperformer. However, it does reveal the opportunity for further study, e.g. a qualitative analysis of the topic focusing on the opinion of the employee and line manager and their perception of PM.