Distinguishing the Discontinuity: A Social Network Perspective of Team Performance Ratings
Ms. Hailin ZHAO
PhD Candidate in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources
Tippie College of Business
The University of Iowa
Team members typically make unequal – and, from the outside, unquantifiable – contributions toward team goals. Acknowledging this challenge, managers frequently use peer-ratings to gain an insider perspective of individuals’ performance. To date, peer-rated performance has overwhelmingly been operationalized using simple aggregation models, whereby multiple ratings are considered interchangeable. This approach, however, overlooks teams’ idiosyncratic interactional patterns and discounts the possibility of meaningful variance in the informational utility captured across raters. Addressing this limitation, we integrate information processing and social network theories to advance a novel framework for understanding within-team peer-ratings. Specifically, we posit that members’ network centrality represents their access to performance-related information, which is evidenced by systematic rating differences between central and peripheral team members. Next, using the empirically robust conscientiousness-performance relationship as a benchmark, we present results suggesting that central member ratings are also more valid performance indicators than peripheral ratings. Finally, we find that the information advantage associated with member centrality is contingent upon team-level network structures; high centralization broadens the informational gap between central and peripheral members, whereas increased network density decreases the gap.