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Performance evaluation in a matrix organization: a case study (Part One)

Steven H. Appelbaum (Professor of Management and Senior Concordia University Research Chair in Organizational Development, John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
David Nadeau (Senior Group Leader, CAE‐Aerospace, Laval, Quebec, Canada)
Michael Cyr (Vice‐President, Locweld Inc., Candiac, Quebec, Canada)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 11 July 2008




The purpose of this paper is to examine and ultimately suggest the most effective method with which to evaluate employees operating within a matrix organization. The paper aims to demonstrate the tools, corporate participation and acceptance levels required in order to ensure employee and manager “buy in” and implementation.


This paper consists of a comprehensive review of literature demonstrating functional areas within matrix organization as well as employee evaluation methods within various organizations. It is presented in three sections, defining a matrix organization, demonstrating effective evaluation methods and strategies, and finally showing how the two should work together. Critical incidents are interspersed throughout the article in order to demonstrate how the research compares to the methods employed by a leading aviation engineering firm.


Ineffective evaluation methods within matrix organizations can lead to lower employee morale as well as an ambiguous understanding of employee roles within such an organization. Employee and management buy in and support of an evaluation system and its goals are crucial to the success of the program. The multi‐rater system appeared to be most effective.

Practical implications

Several tools exist to help employers effectively evaluate their employees in a constructive and effective manner. Among them are clear job description and corporate structure, followed by a review of performance by both functional and project managers. Additionally, peer evaluations can prove to be constructive and contribute positively to the development of the employee. This paper can be a practical aid for managers in matrix organization that need to successfully and constructively evaluate employees, but are having difficulty doing so in an effective method..


Given the limited research with respect to evaluations within a matrix structure, this paper demonstrates an understanding of a subject that has not been adequately explored. The paper demonstrated in “real time” the critical synthesis for PA and the matrix organization – an absence noted in the literature.



Appelbaum, S.H., Nadeau, D. and Cyr, M. (2008), "Performance evaluation in a matrix organization: a case study (Part One)", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 40 No. 5, pp. 236-241.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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