Alasdair A. K. White - Research

Research

In 2006, he worked closely with John Fairhurst and, following various observational studies, they formulated the White-Fairhurst Performance Hypothesis which states that "all performance will initially trend towards a steady state, particularly after a period of performance uplift, and that steady state will then develop a downward curve leading to a significant performance decline".

In a paper entitled From Comfort Zone to Performance Management, White examines the hypothesis from a theoretical perspective starting with the Comfort Zone Theory and the work of Robert Yerkes and John Dodson, David McClelland et al., the Tuckman Model and Colin Carnall. This theoretical examination leads White to conclude that the White-Fairhurst Hypothesis broadly holds true and the performance curve is as demonstrated in the White-Fairhurst TPR Life-cycle Model (TPR stands for Transforming, Performing, Reforming). There has been some criticism of White’s approach, suggesting that more recent sources and work would have been more appropriate, but none have been able to offer a counter-argument or to adequately refute or dispute the hypothesis. The fact remains that most of the fundamentals of performance behaviour were established in the last century and that the more recent work is itself based on this earlier work.

White argues that what is important now is to determine trend-change points on the performance curve so that the most appropriate performance management actions can be applied. He conducted research within a university environment in this relation to this and the result is recorded in his 2008 essay Managing Academic Performance the underlying theory of which underpins the approach being adopted by a number of academic institutions.

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