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Stakeholder assessments as a predictor of high potential and promotion to partner in professional service firms

Stephen A. Stumpf (Villanova School of Business, Villanova, Pennsylvania, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 7 August 2007




The purpose of this research is to examine multisource feedback from a stakeholder perspective, arguing that select competency assessments that different rater groups provide are valid predictors of the “partner” potential and advancement of senior professional service professionals (PSPs).


A 360‐degree assessment tool for PSPs, the Relationship Management Survey (RMS), was administered to 391 principals as part of their professional development. Six RMS dimensions (clusters of competencies) were used to predict a principal's high‐potential promise and promotion to partner three to five years later.


The results support hypotheses detailing how different rater groups assess PSPs differently, and how these differences are relevant to PSP promotion to partner. The predictability of becoming partner increased by 50 percent compared to partner‐only assessments through the use of direct report assessments of the principals' leadership and coaching, peer assessments of collaboration, and client assessments of trust.

Practical implications

Professional service firms can improve their succession planning and promotion decisions by including multirater assessments in their decision making process; PSPs can guide their career planning and professional development by attending to the distinct competency interests of different stakeholders.


This article supports a broader use of different rater group assessments in promotion decisions and the career development of professionals. It suggests the need for dialogue and research regarding when different rater assessments in 360‐degree assessment tools are an index of instrument validity.



Stumpf, S.A. (2007), "Stakeholder assessments as a predictor of high potential and promotion to partner in professional service firms", Career Development International, Vol. 12 No. 5, pp. 481-497.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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