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"Catch me if you can?" A psychological analysis of managers' feedback seeking

Millward, LJ, Asumeng, M and McDowall, A (2010) "Catch me if you can?" A psychological analysis of managers' feedback seeking JOURNAL OF MANAGERIAL PSYCHOLOGY, 25 (4). pp. 384-407.

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This paper aims to locate managerial feedback-seeking in a self-regulation model in which self-motivational considerations are uppermost. It seeks to use a qualitative psychological approach to address the question of when, what, how, from whom and why is feedback sought in a performance contingent managerial setting.


Using Kelly's Repertory Grid technique, ten managers reflected systematically on their feedback seeking in an organizational context. A grounded theory framework was used to identify higher-order cross-case constructs.


Managers sought performance feedback when they perceived uncertainty and difficulty in the pursuit of their managerial functions and were minded of their need to develop their management skills. Consistent with the instrumental model, feedback seeking was highly goal-oriented and self-affirmative in pursuit of increased managerial competence. However, the finding that adds most to the understanding on both an empirical and theoretical level is in showing how managers sought their feedback remotely, and from largely external sources, to reconcile development needs with self-protective considerations (i.e. image and ego-costs) in relation to subordinates and peers. These findings have implications for understanding feedback seeking as a multi-dimensional highly self-motivated process.

Research limitations/implications

Qualitative research uses small samples and this limits their empirical generalizability; however, the paper's findings link with previous work indicating potential for hypothesis generation and theoretical development.


Questions are raised about whether managers feel able to seek performance feedback for learning and development purposes, without feeling threatened in their capability and worth as managers. The paper argues that the environment most conducive to feedback seeking is one in which managers feel “psychologically safe” rather than defensive about their capability.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Millward, LJ
Asumeng, M
McDowall, A
Date : 1 January 2010
DOI : 10.1108/02683941011035296
Copyright Disclaimer : This is an electronic version of an article published as Millward LJ, Asumeng M, McDowall A (2010). "Catch me if you can?" A psychological analysis of managers' feedback seeking. JOURNAL OF MANAGERIAL PSYCHOLOGY 25(4):384-407 Available online at:
Uncontrolled Keywords : Social Sciences, Psychology, Applied, Management, Psychology, Business & Economics, Feedback, Self development, Performance appraisal, Managers, Work psychology, SELF-EFFICACY, INFORMATION ENVIRONMENT, ORGANIZATIONAL-BEHAVIOR, INDIVIDUAL-DIFFERENCES, 360-DEGREE FEEDBACK, GOAL ORIENTATION, PERFORMANCE, MOTIVES, DETERMINANTS, METAANALYSIS
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 02 Oct 2012 16:18
Last Modified : 06 Oct 2017 08:51

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