In the evaluation of managerial performance 'contagion' is considered to exist where a superior, in evaluating the performance of a subordinate, applies the same criteria as are applied to the evaluation of his/her own performance. The findings of the empirical studies which have sought to establish whether contagion does exist are ambiguous (De Coster & Fertakis, 1968; Hopwood, 1973). Merchant (1985) argues that such ambiguity may result from the highly aggregated measurement systems used. Using unaggregated measures the results of a survey of 72 senior marketing managers were analysed. Each manager was asked to rank the usage made of seven factors in the evaluation of the performance of their subordinates, and also to rank the usage of the same seven factors in the evaluation of his/her own performance. Two of the factors chosen were accounting orientated i.e. they necessitated information provided by the accounting information system, the other five factors were non-accounting orientated i.e. they could not be evaluated on the basis of information provided by the accounting information system. Rank correlation was then utilised to establish if contagion existed for each of the factors. For six of the seven factors, significant and positive associations were found to exist among the rankings, which is evidence of the existence of contagion, not only on the accounting-based factors but also on the non-accounting based ones. There is also evidence of significant negative association between one of the accounting-based factors and a number of the non-accounting based ones. The extent to which contagion is found to exist within this study, by contrast to the ambiguous results of previous studies, is likely explained by the measurement system used. Within this study non-aggregative measurement systems are utilised, and it is suggested, following Merchant (1985) that such an approach has significant benefits to the study of the factors associated with the criteria used in the evaluation of managerial performance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas