Date of Award

Spring 1996

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Todd A DeMitchell


The purpose of this study was to determine Cooperative Extension educator perceptions regarding performance management. Performance management is defined as a system comprised of an ongoing process of planning and appraising which includes the establishment of goals and expectations through performance planning; continuing year round performance feedback and coaching; and a formal performance appraisal at the end of the performance period.

This research was intended to provide a better understanding of how extension educators perceived the performance management process within their respective state Cooperative Extension organization. An assumption of this study was that extension educator attitudes toward performance management are an important factor in the system's ultimate effectiveness.

A survey research method of data collection was employed in this study with a stratified random sample of 233 extension educators representing 30% of all extension educators from eight states within the northeast region of the United States. Participating states included Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

A survey instrument consisting of a mailed questionnaire was developed to survey staff and determine the perceptions held by extension educators in response to statements regarding performance management especially in the areas of performance planning, performance feedback and coaching, and performance appraisal. Completed survey responses were received from 206 educators resulting in an 88% return rate.

The results of the study revealed a gap between what educators perceive as present and ideal performance management practices for each of the 53 statements presented in the survey. On average, educators considered their performance management system to be in the range of "somewhat ineffective" to "somewhat effective"; a strong relationship was suggested between how educators perceived the elements of performance planning, performance feedback and coaching, and performance appraisal with how they perceived the effectiveness of the overall performance management system.

Based on the study findings, recommendations for improving performance management within Cooperative Extension are presented.