An Investigation of the Performance Measurement System and the Employees’ Performance Appraisal: Case Study of Abu Dhabi Police

Adel Nassib Nasser Alsaqri

The study investigates the validity of the current performance measurement system in one of the governmental organizations in the UAE. The study findings contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the UAE context, in particular to the implementation of performance measurement in governmental/public organizations in the UAE.


Organizations in the public sector have adapted their performance measurement and appraisal systems in line with calls in New Public Management literature (NPM). In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), public organizations have embraced the NPM initiatives in many aspects and to different degrees. The focus of this study is the Abu Dhabi Police (ADP), which is a local public organization in the Abu Dhabi Emirate. ADP has multi-dimensional operations with a significant number of indicators to be addressed. ADP imposes the implementation of Balanced Scorecard (BSC) against all its units’ operation to measure their capabilities against Abu Dhabi’s fast-growing population and to evaluate the quality of their operations. ADP is considered to be one of the major participants in the Abu Dhabi Excellence Awards as they encourage the implementation of different NPM initiatives. ADP always works on continual improvements in services provided and is keen to enhance such improvements at the organizational, operational, and individual levels.

However, commentators recommend that public organizations are urged to investigate the validity of performance measurement and appraisal systems and the level of alignment among the key performance indicators at various levels (i.e., strategic, operational, and individual). In the case of ADP, it incorporated several procedural changes, including promotion policy, rewards, and qualification requirements. These changes were implemented in late 2012.

However, following the implementation of these changes, two critical incidents have propagated and attracted ADP’s management attention, mainly: a) an alarming increase in levels of staff dissatisfaction; and b) the high volume of staff appeals against annual performance appraisal. This was particularly evident within technical departments. These two incidents were critical to the Forensic Evidence Department (FED) due to the technical difficulties involved in the replacement of technical staff who chose to resign.

The above formed the empirical justification in support of the current study’s primary objectives. This study investigates the validity of the current performance measurement and performance appraisal systems at ADP-FED, UAE. The main objectives of this study are a) investigate the level of alignment between ADP’s strategic priorities and its performance measurement system (PMS) at various levels

(i.e., organizational/departmental/individual), and b) examine the coherence of competencies associated with technical jobs at the FED within ADP with the performance appraisal (PA) system. This study adopts a case study approach. Furthermore, this study builds on the pragmatic constructivism approach (PC) (L. Nørreklit, H. Nørreklit, & P. Israelsen,2006) and the behavioral event interview approach (BEI) (Spencer, 1993). A total number of 28 semi-structured interviews were conducted. A rating survey was also used, in which data were collected in 2017 from 183 staff at ADP-FED.

Main findings of the first phase of the study (i.e., PC approach) show that ADP needs to adopt an actor-based approach in order to align its employees’ perceptions into its PMS. Findings show a poor awareness among employees with regard to the strategic KPIs.

Moreover, findings show that BSC is partially implemented and that its deployment (i.e., type I) lacks critical elements, such as incentive programs. The current PA system is criticized in terms of impracticality in evaluating the technical individuals’ performances. In addition, the study identifies twenty competencies for the technical jobs of the ADP-FED, which is considered to be a significant contribution to this study.

Findings of this study contribute to knowledge and practice. First, findings contribute to knowledge by responding to the recent calls to support the scarcity of research in terms of evaluating the validity of PMS in the public sector. Moreover, this study contributes in that it examines the level of alignment within PMS’s of public organizations in emerging economies. The current study fills a gap and fulfills the scarcity of literature in the UAE context with regard to investigating the validity of the implementation of NPM and its tools. The study also contributes to the literature on the PC approach, which helps in highlighting the complexity of implementing performance measurement in public organizations by analyzing employees’ facts, possibilities, values, and communications dimensions. Second, the study’s findings have practical implications. For example, ADP should consider working into integrating officers’ factual possibilities more effectively. In addition, ADP will benefit from restructuring its PMS around its employees’ perceptions. In terms of incentives, ADP could adopt the Ministry of Interior’s (MOI) incentives program for annual performance. The study also suggests that ADP-HR Department could study incorporating the identified competencies into ADP-FED’s into the PA system.