Employees of Greatness: Signifying Values in Performance Appraisal Criteria
The spread of performance-based and variable pay systems has affected expectations on employee contributions and remuneration, which have become increasingly personalized and individualized. Based on a theoretical valuation studies approach, this study of performance-based pay systems in Sweden shows that performance appraisals are (e)valuations of employees’ yearly performance in which they are prized and (ap)praised at the same time. Through a document analysis of performance criteria from four organizations, the study analyzes how values expressed refer to Boltanski and Thévenot’s six orders of worth. The analysis resulted in a theoretical construction of a joint ideal of Employees of Greatness, against which employees are measured and remunerated. The existence of the ideal of employee greatness is explained by the increasing congruence of organizational ideals in private and public sectors, as principles from emotional and cognitive forms of capitalist organization are superimposed on traditional industrial capitalist organizational ideals.
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