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Managing the most important asset: a twenty year review on the performance management literature

Ebina Justin M.A. (School of Management Studies, Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kochi, India)
Manu Melwin Joy (School of Management Studies, Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kochi, India)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 18 January 2022

Issue publication date: 6 May 2022




The three objectives served by this review are to provide readers a limpid insight about the topic performance management (PM), to analyse the latest trends in PM literature and to illustrate the theoretical perspectives. It would be fascinating for the practitioners and researchers to see the latest trends in the PM system, which is not yet covered in previous reviews. The study covers the historical and theoretical perspectives of human resource management practices. We also try to unveil some of the theoretical debates and conflicts regarding the topic.


We reviewed 139 studies on PM published within the last 20 years (2000–2020). The method used here is the integrative review method. The criteria used to determine studies are articles from peer-reviewed journals regarding the PM system published between 2000 and 2020. The initial search for studies was conducted using an extensive journal database, and then an intensive reference-based search was also done. Each selected article was coded, themes were identified, and trends for every 5 years were determined. All the articles were analysed and classified based on the methodology used to identify qualitative and quantitative studies.


The review concludes that PM literature's emphasis shifted from traditional historical evaluations conducted once or twice a year to forward-looking, feedback-enriched PM systems. By segregating the studies into 5-year periods, we could extract five significant trends that prevailed in the PM literature from 2000 to 2020: reactions to PM system, factors that influence PM system, quality of rating sources, evaluating the PM system and types of the PM system. The review ends with a discussion of practical implications and avenues for future research.

Research limitations/implications

It is equally a limitation and strength of this paper that we conducted a review of 139 articles to cover the whole works in PM literature during the last 20 years. The study could not concentrate on any specific PM theme, such as exploring employee outcomes or organizational outcomes. Likewise, the studies on public sector and non-profit organizations are excluded from this review, which constitutes a significant share of PM literature. Another significant limitation is that the selected articles are classified only based on their methodology; further classification based on different themes and contexts can also be done.


The study is an original review of the PM literature to identify the latest trends in the field.



Justin M.A., E. and Joy, M.M. (2022), "Managing the most important asset: a twenty year review on the performance management literature", Journal of Management History, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 428-451.



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