Original Research

Positive feedback, feedback seeking and performance: Feedback orientation as a moderator

Weilin Su, Shangfeng Jiang
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 54, No 1 | a3910 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v54i1.3910 | © 2023 Weilin Su, Shangfeng Jiang | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 January 2023 | Published: 14 August 2023

About the author(s)

Weilin Su, School of Literature, Capital Normal University, Beijing, China
Shangfeng Jiang, Development Planning Office, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing, China


Purpose: Based on the feedback intervention theory, the main objective of this study was to explore the association of supervisor positive feedback with employee performance and the roles of feedback seeking and feedback orientation.

Design/methodology/approach: Hierarchical regression and bootstrap analyses are used to test the above hypotheses and theoretical model on 368 dyad data obtained from Chinese employees and their direct supervisors at three different times.

Findings/results: The results show that positive supervisor feedback has a positive effect on employee performance. Feedback seeking partially mediates the effect of positive feedback on employee performance. Feedback orientation positively moderates the influence of positive supervisor feedback on employee feedback seeking and performance, that is, for employees with high feedback orientation, the above two reinforcing effects are more obvious.

Practical implications: The findings of this study demonstrate that supervisors should provide feedback to their employees in a positive manner in their daily work, so as to motivate employees to actively seek feedback and ultimately achieve the purpose of improving employee performance. Also, it is equally important for organisations and supervisors to actively cultivate the feedback orientation traits of employees.

Originality/value: This study provides new insights into the impact mechanism and boundary conditions of positive feedback impact on employee performance and helps to complement the existing literature on feedback theory and performance management. In addition, applying feedback intervention theory to the research on the association between supervisor feedback and employee performance has made some contributions to the related research of feedback intervention theory.


positive supervisor feedback; employee performance; feedback seeking; feedback orientation; feedback intervention theory. Introduction

JEL Codes

C12: Hypothesis Testing: General; D23: Organizational Behavior • Transaction Costs • Property Rights; L84: Personal, Professional, and Business Services; M12: Personnel Management • Executives; Executive Compensation

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure


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