How Can Multisource Feedback Improve Organizational Financial Performance?

Topic(s): development, feedback, learning, organizational performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology, 2016
Article: Multisource feedback, human capital, and the financial performance of organizations
Authors: K.Y. Kim, L. Atwater, P.C. Patel, J.W. Smither
Reviewed by: Ashlyn Patterson

How does multi-source feedback differ from ordinary feedback? Traditionally, employees receive performance feedback from their supervisor once or twice a year in their performance review. In contrast, organizational use of multisource feedback involves collecting input from a recipient’s supervisor, peers, subordinates, and customers. The use of multisource feedback allows for a more holistic view of performance and helps employees understand feedback on a broader array of their skills and behaviors. Does the use of multisource feedback actually increase workforce productivity though? Researchers (Kim, Atwater, Patel & Smither, 2016) studied employees from 232 organizations in South Korea to find out.


Receiving feedback from multiple sources allows employees to clearly identify gaps in where they want to be and how others view them. Increased awareness of these skill gaps can motivate employees to take steps towards increasing their own learning, skills, knowledge, and abilities. In turn, employees are better able to do their jobs. In fact, the researchers found the use of multisource feedback increased employees’ job capability and learning capability, which in turn increased their productivity (as measured by total sales per employee).


The use of multisource feedback in an organization sets the tone for other forms of feedback-seeking and open communication. It creates norms of knowledge sharing and knowledge seeking. The more open employees are about sharing knowledge with one another, the more it facilitates knowledge acquisition, improved team coordination, and comprehensive decision-making. The research supports this notion, finding that the use of multisource feedback increases knowledge sharing in the organization, which increases workforce productivity.


This research shows that organizations that leverage multisource feedback had higher levels of employee ability, knowledge sharing, and workforce productivity. Taking into consideration subordinate, peer, supervisor and customer feedback is important in identifying employees’ skill gaps. The use of multisource feedback also facilitates a culture of knowledge sharing so that employees feel more comfortable asking for feedback and engaging in open communication throughout the year. Organizations looking to build a culture that fosters employee development, feedback, and learning should consider using multisource feedback as a helpful tool.


Kim, K.Y., Atwater, L., Patel, P.C. & Smither, J.W. (2016, August 8). Multisource feedback, human capital, and the financial performance of organizations. Journal of Applied Psychology, 101(11), 1569-1584.