טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentOref-Hen Tal
SubjectThe Social Consequences of Peer Assessment: the Impact of
Anonymity
DepartmentDepartment of Industrial Engineering and Management
Supervisor Mr. Peter Bamberger


Abstract

Studies on the effects of peer assessment have generated mixed results, some concluded that developmental peer appraisals can have an immediate positive impact on group member perceptions of open communication, group task focus, group viability and member relationship.  In contrast, most of the prior studies examining the social consequences of peer assessment have concluded that such appraisals generally harm relationships and impair group functioning, have negative effects on group morale and performance on group assignments. In the current study, we attempted to reconcile these empirical inconsistencies by proposing and testing a theory regarding the social consequences of peer assessment using Game Theory. Furthermore, we found that there were different consequences in prior studies when using an anonymous peer assessment or non-anonymous peer assessment. Most studies examining the effects of peer appraisal have been based on laboratory designs whose members receive ratings from anonymous peer raters. The outcomes of these studies found to be negative. On the other hand, a study that assessed the effects of direct (i.e., non-anonymous), developmental peer evaluation found positive outcomes. Based on the above we got the notion that rater accountability has a moderating role.

In the current study, we explore two competing perspectives regarding the potential social consequences of peer assessment; one suggesting positive, direct consequences as a result of a reduction in member free-riding, and the other suggesting indirect, negative consequences as a function of tactical and often dysfunctional evaluation behavior.  We argue that rater accountability determines the extent to which peer appraisal is associated with positive or negative consequences.  Our analysis is to a large extent informed and framed by the literature on social dilemmas and uses relevant concepts from Game theory. Using longitudinal data collecting research in a kibbutz-owned plant in Israel, we divided the 16 departments into eight matched pairs. Eight departments were assigned to the accountability condition, and the remaining eight were assigned to the anonymous condition. To test the moderating effect of rater accountability on the consequences of peer assessment over time, we used a repeated measures time-series design. we found consistent evidence that this improvement in managerial ratings of subordinates’ attitudes and behaviors over time was greater among individuals working in departments assigned to the accountable assessment condition than those assigned to the anonymous assessment condition. In sum, the peer assessment data suggest that rater accountability reduces the risk of self-enhancement bias and game-playing on the part of peer raters, and thus provides a stronger context for the potentially positive consequences of peer assessment to take effect.