Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Marketing (Business Administration)

First Advisor

Joe F. Hair, Jr


Performance appraisal is a crucial function of sales managers. Often, performance appraisal information is used as a basis for decisions relating to pay, promotion, and termination. Such decisions can have a substantial impact on the motivation, satisfaction, and productivity of members of the sales force. Despite its importance, little research has investigated the way in which decisions concerning salesperson performance are made. The primary goal of this research was to examine the relative effects of salespeople's ability and effort on decisions relating to promotion, compensation, transfer, and termination. A secondary purpose was to see if salesperson sex influenced these decisions. A sample of 256 subjects participated in the study. In a role playing situation, subjects' responses suggested that a salesperson's ratings on ability and effort criteria play a significant role in determining actions concerning salesperson performance. The results indicated that when a salesperson's performance was characterized as below average, the most coercive actions, including termination, were more likely to be taken when the salesperson was rated low on effort criteria rather than ability criteria. When making decisions concerning good performance, however, subjects were more likely to promote and to transfer to a better territory those salespeople who performed well on ability criteria rather than on effort criteria. There was some evidence of differential treatment of male and female salespeople. Males were more likely to be punished for poor performance but were more likely to be promoted for good performance than were females. The results suggest, however, that ratings on ability and effort performance dimensions have a greater influence on reactions to salesperson performance than salesperson sex.