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Upward feedback and its contribution to employees' feeling of self‐determination

Johannes Bauer (University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany)
Regina H. Mulder (University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 1 October 2006




The paper seeks to show that self‐determination is a widely regarded motivational variable in educational research that relates to intrinsically motivated, self‐directed learning at work. This study aimed to find out whether the possibility to provide upward feedback to supervisors contributes to employees' feelings of self‐determination. This should only be the case if the subordinates perceive the possibility to provide feedback as a serious possibility of influence and improvement.


The paper finds that in a cross‐sectional case study, 76 employees from a high‐tech industry enterprise were surveyed for their perception of upward feedback and their feeling of self‐determination by questionnaire. Self‐determination was measured by the support of the intrinsic needs of autonomy, competence and social relatedness at the workplace.


The paper finds that, as expected, the perceived quality of the upward feedback is related positively to self‐determination. Employees who perceive the upward feedback as a chance for improving their working conditions also perceive more support of autonomy, competence and social relatedness at their workplace.

Research limitations/implications

In the paper the correlative design allows no conclusions about the direction of causality between the perceived quality of the upward feedback and self‐determination. Further, due to the design the results are limited to the specific field.


The paper delivers a new aspect of the role of feedback for learning in organisations by casting light on beneficial effects for the provider of the feedback, not the receiver. It emphasises the role of empowerment and participation for establishing an organisational climate that fosters motivation and learning, and shows the possible contribution of upward feedback in this process.



Bauer, J. and Mulder, R.H. (2006), "Upward feedback and its contribution to employees' feeling of self‐determination", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 18 No. 7/8, pp. 508-521.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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