Purpose – Departing from Hobfoll's conservation of resources theory, the paper aims to examine the relationship between resource losses (excessive job demands and unfavorable performance feedback) on the one hand, and negative job attitudes (dissatisfaction, reduced commitment, intention to leave) and burnout (exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced personal accomplishment) on the other hand. Design/methodology/approach – The sample included surveys from 272 male constabulary officers who had participated in a developmental assessment center. Data were analyzed using hierarchical regression. Findings – The results showed direct associations between resource losses and negative outcomes. There were indications for the development of loss spirals for four out of six negative outcomes. Specifically, these relationships between job demands and negative outcomes were stronger for those officers receiving unfavorable feedback than for officers not receiving unfavorable feedback. Practical implications – Employees confronted with excessive job demands and unfavorable developmental assessment center (DAC) feedback were most vulnerable to combined resource losses, and this experience was associated with negative outcomes (i.e. more dissatisfaction, less affective commitment, more emotional exhaustion, and more cynicism). Originality/value – The unique contribution of this study is that, besides balancing the benefits of using DACs with the costs of implementation, it is emphasized that it is important to anticipate consequences of unfavorable feedback. Moreover, the disappointment and association with negative outcomes should be explicitly considered in the design of the DAC.
Journal of Management Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 23, 2008
Keywords: Assessment centres; Feedback; Employee behaviour; Conservation; Resources