The Performance Effects of Narrative Feedback
This paper investigates how narrative feedback affects employee performance. We build on affective events and cognitive self-regulation theory to investigate the effects of three narrative feedback message characteristics (i.e., valence, specificity, and causal language use) on employees’ performance improvements. Using archival data from a European e-commerce company, we find that receiving feedback with a negative valence can decrease the likelihood of performance improvements. Furthermore, we find that while higher specificity in feedback on strengths and higher causal language use in feedback on weaknesses can positively affect performance improvement, higher specificity in feedback on weaknesses and causal language use in feedback on strengths can have adverse effects. In additional analyses, we show differing effects of narrative feedback for employees who receive positive or negative feedback surprises. These findings advance our understanding of whether and how narrative feedback can be valuable for employee development.
Working paper version available at SSRN.