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A case for competencies: Assessing the value of trait-based performance appraisal for non-faculty university employees

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Published: 2016-05-02

Authors

Emily A Messa

University of Houston

http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0174-4576

Catherine L. Horn

University of Houston

http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4959-5810

Teri Elkins Longacre

University of Houston

http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0935-7300

F. Richard Olenchak

Purdue University

Lisa M. Penney

University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee

Keywords: non-faculty employees; performance appraisal; competencies

Abstract

A case study analyzed how supervisors at one university selected competencies, or trait-based skills, for non-faculty employees. This case study provides a valuable contribution by focusing on employees at one institution type–a large, public research university. While it has been documented that non-faculty employees provide important contributions to higher education, there is more to be discovered about this population of university employee, noted as more than 2 million U.S. employees in 2011. The research question guiding this study was: Within a university setting, how are employee competencies valued by job title within colleges and divisions? Multiple correspondence analysis evaluated supervisor competency selection for 1,836 non-supervisory and 565 supervisory employees using data from this university’s 2012 performance appraisal. For non-supervisory employees, the first dimension accounted for 65.11% of adjusted inertia, or explained variance. The second dimension accounted for 23.89% of adjusted inertia. For supervisory employees, the first dimension accounted for 86.57% of adjusted inertia. The second dimension accounted for 8.26% of adjusted inertia. The key study finding was that, despite the availability of other higher-education specific competency alternatives and best practices for competency use in the appraisal, this institution’s implementation of competencies was found to be mechanical. This study proposed best practices for this and similarly situated institutions as to how competencies can be used to develop employees and improve their performance.

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Author Biographies

Emily A Messa

University of Houston

Emily A. Messa, Ph.D., is the Associate Vice President for Administration at the University of Houston. 

Catherine L. Horn

University of Houston

Catherine L. Horn, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and Executive Director of the Institute for Educational Policy Research and Evaluation in the College of Education at the University of Houston.

Teri Elkins Longacre

University of Houston

Teri Elkins Lonagcre, Ph.D., J.D., is the Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Student Success in the Office of the Provost and is an Associate Professor of Management in the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston.

F. Richard Olenchak

Purdue University

F. Richard Olenchak, Ph.D., is Department Head and Professor in the Department of Educational Studies in the College of Education at Purdue University.

Lisa M. Penney

University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee

Lisa M. Penney, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Management in the College of Business at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. 

PDF

Published: 2016-05-02

How to Cite

Messa, E. A., Horn, C. L., Longacre, T. E., Olenchak, F. R., & Penney, L. M. (2016). A case for competencies: Assessing the value of trait-based performance appraisal for non-faculty university employees. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 24, 51. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.24.2212