Attribution about Job Performance in Organizations: A Test of Harold Kelley’s Model on University Teachers

  • Tayyaba Rafique Makhdoom
  • Khalil-ur-Rehman Bhatti
  • Muhammad Nawaz


Attribution is the process by which individuals explain the causes of behavior and events. Harold Kelley‘s Co-variation Model of Attribution is one of the widely discussed and credited for being thorough and useful. The model states that attribution process involves deciding whether an observed behavior is internally or externally caused and that determination largely depends on three factors: Distinctiveness, Consensus and Consistency. This study tested the Kelley‘s model by analyzing employees‘ attribution about performance of other employees. Sample consists of 92 teachers working in the various campuses at the University of Sindh. Close-ended questionnaire comprising 36 items was used for data collection. Respondents were asked about the causes—internal or external—of other employees‘ performance. Three task behaviors (teaching subjects, evaluating students, and class control) and three contextual behaviors (treating students, relation with colleagues, defiance) were taken for assessing attribution. The data were analyzed using SPSS in terms of Mean, Mode, Median, Inter quartile range, one sample t -test and Chi Square. Hence, findings relatively supported the model. Low distinctiveness, High consensus and High consistency cause people to attribute in the way as described by Kelley, whereas High distinctiveness and Low consistency were very slightly attributed to external factor and Low consensus was slightly attributed to internal factors. ‗High distinctiveness is cause of external attribution‘ got the least support, whereas ‗high consistency is cause of internal attribution‘ got highest support. Managers and employees should adapt or maintain their behavior keeping in view the attribution of employees for improving organizational effectiveness. Though model was not strongly supported, that proves that it is not a rule of thumb and seeks identification and development of new and other theories/models.