Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Research update: Political skill, stereotype threat, and NFL players

A few research articles for us...

First up, several articles from the latest issue of Human Performance:

Lee & Dalal demonstrate in a policy-capturing study that performance "troughs" exceed "peaks" in their influence on performance ratings.

Next, a fascinating study by Meurs et al. where they show how political skill (or networking ability) moderates the relationship between the HEXACO factor of sincerity and task performance. In other words, for individuals high on political skill the authors found a positive relationship between sincerity and task performance (and a negative relationship for those low on the skill).

Are you recruiting highly educated graduates? Then you'll want to read Jaidi, et al.'s piece. In it, they describe a study where recruitment advertising and positive word of mouth related positively to job pursuit intention and behavior. Somewhat surprisingly, on-campus presence related negatively to these measures.

If you like football and/or physical ability tests, you'll be interested in the study by Lyons, et al. of NFL players. In it, they demonstrate that collegiate game performance out-predicted physical ability tests administered during the NFL Combine when looking at future NFL performance. And unlike physical ability, past performance remained a consistent predictor across four years of performance, although the criterion coefficients deteriorated over time, similar to what we find with cognitive ability scores.

Finally, over in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Nadler & Clark report the results of research on stereotype threat. The results of their meta-analysis indicated that attempts to nullify stereotype threat (e.g., by dismissing it or disguising the task) resulted in a moderate improvement in score (d=.52) for both African Americans and Hispanic Americans, and there appeared to be no difference between the groups in terms of the effect.

Sidenote: those of you with an interest in HR technology and talent management might want to check out the six sessions being streamed live from Bersin & Associates' IMPACT 2011 conference on April 27th and 28th.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Are executive recruiters discriminating against non-Whites?

You might think so if you just glanced at a recent study by Dreher, et al. in the Journal of Management. But what if we read the study...are the results more complicated?

Here's the background: The authors distributed a survey to over 13,000 U.S.-based BlueSteps subscribers. BlueSteps is an "executive career management service"--essentially a place where $100k+ job seekers and executive recruiters can connect, seemingly similar to TheLadders. It is maintained by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).

Due to various reasons (including the survey being blocked as spam), the researchers ended up with a final sample size of 572. So keep that in mind when interpreting the results. Also, nearly 90% of the respondents were male, and around the same number of respondents were White. So the non-white, non-male sample was relatively small.

What the researchers found was that white male respondents were significantly more likely to report being contacted by executive recruiters. And it wasn't because of factors like individual education or work experience--these were controlled for. Interestingly, further analysis revealed that race appeared to be the driving force; there was no difference in contact between female and non-White male respondents.

They also found that switching employers ("pursuing an external labor market strategy") resulted in a compensation premium only for White male respondents. Not surprisingly, those who reported receiving more contacts from search firms had greater compensation. But White males who had received the most number of contacts reported the highest level of compensation compared to other demographic groups.

Here's how the authors summarized their results: "...our study suggests that the White male advantage associated with external job change is, to a meaningful degree, sensitive to the processes and practices of executive search firms."

The authors do point out that the small size of the non-White male sample may have something to do with the results, and they caution readers about generalizing the results to other populations. However, they also state: "...the executive search industry would likely benefit from in-depth internal reviews regarding a variety of diversity-oriented issues. It is in the search firm’s likely best interest to present a diverse slate of candidates to its clients; as such, search firms would benefit from pursuing internal studies designed to determine if and why female and minority male managers and executives are underrepresented in their databases (or in databases of the BlueSteps variety)."

Is this an example of blatant racial discrimination? It's suggestive but not conclusive. The authors even write "we are not suggesting that anything sinister is going on or that search firms are intentionally discriminating against women and non-White males." But the fact that a large percentage of top search professionals appear to be White males should factor into the conversation. It may not be intentional, but that doesn't mean it's not discrimination. More research (e.g., controlled laboratory studies) would help us answer this question.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

A little of this, a little of that

I've got a hodgepodge of things for you this time, some research mixed with some other interesting things.

First, the March issue of Journal of Applied Psychology, which has been out for a while and I've been a little slow to get to:

- Becker and Cropanzano on the (non-linear) relationship between job performance and voluntary turnover (people tend to skedaddle when they're on a performance skid).

- Podsakoff, et al. with a fascinating study of the impact of OCBs on interviewee ratings. Turns out they made quite an impact, particularly for the higher-level position, and particularly when candidates demonstrated low levels of OCB (e.g., helping, loyalty). Raters were probably surprised that a situation that so clearly calls for impression management failed to elicit it.

- McDaniel, et al. with a great piece on SJTs. The authors describe two adjustments that can be made to traditional SJTs that improve validity, reduce Black-White mean differences and score elevation due to coaching, and reduce total length. That all sounds pretty good to me, and you can read an in press version here.

- Last but not least, Swider, et al. report the results of a study on job search effort and voluntary turnover. Job embededness appears to play an important rule, as does job satisfaction and the availability of alternatives.

Speaking of McDaniel, he and his colleagues have written an article for an upcoming issue of Industrial and Organizational Psychology with the provocative title of "The Uniform Guidelines are a detriment to the field of personnel selection." SIOP members should be sure to consider submitting a commentary, and even if you're not a member, you should check out the in press version; it's a good read.

Speaking of adverse impact...I attended a fascinating webinar sponsored by PTC/MC on Wednesday where Kenneth Yusko of Marymount University described the development of the Siena Reasoning Test, which uses a slightly different question type (along with some other techniques) to reduce d but maintain criterion-related validity. Provocative stuff, and one of the the holy grails of personnel assessment. Which probably explains why Yusko and his colleagues are being presented with the 2011 M. Scott Myers award at this year's SIOP conference. Interested? Check it out yourself. You can also flip through slides from a similar presentation at the 2008 IPAC conference.

Speaking of IPAC, have you registered for the July conference in D.C.? It's shaping up to be another great one--just check out some of the pre-conference workshops.

Finally, if you're up for a little heated discussion, head on over to ERE, where Wendell Williams laments about the increasing number of people who claim to be "experts" in assessment but who lack the chops. He particularly calls out poorly informed bloggers. Hey...wait a minute...