Publication Date



Purpose - Introduces the primary concepts behind the practice of action inquiry. Then, examines what current literature suggests about components of the performance appraisal process and identifies areas where applying action inquiry concepts can add a new dimension to our current understanding.

Design/methodology/approach - Applies action inquiry, a concept from the organizational learning and change literatures, to suggest ways to infuse meaning and mutuality into appraisal discussions to help organizational leaders and members learn and develop. Ways to do so are demonstrated through a review and discussion of seven principal research streams in the current appraisal literature.

Findings - An action inquiry approach can address many of the limitations inherent in the appraisal process and refocus appraisals as developmental tools. Potentially, appraisals can act as forums to open dialogue, invite participation and build relationships around re-visioning one's work and career. The process can become instrumental to continual quality improvement and organizational growth suggests that a rich opportunity exists to make the performance appraisal process developmentally meaningful for individuals and potentially transformative for organizations.

Originality/value - Discusses seven themes addressed in performance appraisal research and poses new possibilities that emerge when these themes are examined through an action inquiry lens.


Required Publisher Statement
© Emerald. DOI: 10.1108/09696470510574241. Final version published as: Walsh, K., & Fisher, D. (2005). Action inquiry and performance appraisals: Tools for organizational learning and development. The Learning Organization, 12(1), 26-41. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.