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Staffing in the 21st Century: New Challenges

and Strategic Opportunities
Robert E. Ployhart*
Management Department,Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina,
Columbia, SC 29208

Modem organizations struggle with staffing challenges stemming from increased knowledge
work, labor shortages, competition for applicants, and workforce diversity. Yet, despite such
critical needs for effective staffing practice, staffing research continues to be neglected or mis-
understood by many organizationaldecision makers. Solving these challenges requiresstaffing
scholars to expand theirfocus from individual-level recruitmentand selection researchto multi-
level research demonstrating the business unit/organizational- level impact of staffing. Toward
this end, this review provides a selective and criticalanalysis of staffing best practices covering
literaturefrom roughly 2000 to the present. Several research-practicegaps are also identified.

Keywords: staffing; personnel selection; recruitment

Staffing is broadly defined as the process of attracting, selecting, and retaining competent
individuals to achieve organizational goals. Every organization uses some form of a staffing
procedure, and staffing is the primary way an organization influences its diversity and human
capital. The nature of work in the 21st century presents many challenges for staffing. For
example, knowledge-based work places greater demands on employee competencies; there
are widespread demographic, labor, societal, and cultural changes creating growing global
shortfalls of qualified and competent applicants; and the workforce is increasingly diverse. A
survey of 33,000 employers from 23 countries found that 40% of them had difficulty finding
and hiring the desired talent (Manpower Inc., 2006), and approximately 90% of nearly 7,000

t I thank Ivey MacKenzie for his comments and suggestions.
*Correspondingauthor Tel.: 803-777-5903; fax: 803-777-6782.

Journal of Management, Vol. 32 No. 6, December 2006 868-897
DOI: 10. 1177/0149206306293625
© 2006 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved.

Ployhart / Staffing Review 869

managers indicated talent acquisition and retention were becoming more difficult (Axelrod,
Handfield-Jones, & Welsh, 2001).
These challenges might lead one to think that organizational decision makers recognize
staffing as a key strategic opportunity for enhancing competitive advantage. Because talent
is rare, valuable, difficult to imitate, and hard to substitute, organizations that better attract,
select, and retain this talent should outperform those that do not (Barney & Wright, 1998).
Yet surprisingly, a study by Rynes, Brown, and Colbert (2002) found the staffing domain
demonstrated the largest differences between academic findings and the beliefs of managers.
This means that, although staffing should be one of the most important strategic mechanisms
for achieving competitive advantage, organizational decision makers do not understand
staffing or use it optimally. Given that the war for talent is very real and relevant to organi-
zations around the globe, it is critical that organizations and organizational scholars recog-
nize the value of staffing.
The first purpose of this review is to provide a selective summary of key developments in
staffing. Research on recruitment and personnel selection practices will be reviewed, criti-
cally analyzed, and suggestions offered for future theory and practical application. A second
purpose of this review is to critically evaluate the link between staffing theories and practices
to organizational and business unit effectiveness. This is ultimately what HR managers and
scholars must do to demonstrate the strategic value of staffing. Yet it will be shown there are
numerous gaps between research and practice, and particularly little research showing
the business value of staffing. Closing these gaps will be necessary to more strongly convey
the strategic impact of staffing. Multi-level staffing research and models are proposed as one
means to close these gaps.

Scope and Structure of the Review

This review is limited to research published since roughly 2000, the date of the last major
journal reviews of recruitment and selection. The review is organized by themes instead of
chronologically, and each theme is illustrated with representative(not exhaustive) citations.
Note this review has implications for more than U.S. organizations (this is why legal issues
are not discussed). It is intended to be relevant to both macro and micro organizational
researchers, to consider how staffing contributes to outcomes at multiple levels of analysis,
and to identify gaps in our understanding of staffing research and practice. Ultimately, it is
to generate recognition that staffing should have a very real and important impact on orga-
nizational effectiveness, but also to recognize that staffing research needs to move beyond
individual-level theories and methods to demonstrate this impact.

Most definitions of recruitment emphasize the organization's collective efforts to identify,
attract, and influence the job choices of competent applicants. Organizational leaders are
painfully aware that recruiting talent is one of their most pressing problems. Tight labor mar-
kets give applicants considerable choice between employers, particularly for those in

870 Journal of Management / December 2006

professional, information/knowledge-based, technical, and service occupations. Some
reports indicate that nearly half of all employees are at least passively looking for jobs, and
a sizable minority are continually actively searching (Towers Perrin, 2006). This is such a
problem that many organizations actually face a greater recruiting challenge than a selection
challenge. Selection will only be effective and financially defensible if a sufficient quantity
of applicants apply to the organization. Compounding this challenge is that many organiza-
tions struggle with how to attract a diverse workforce. Thus, there is growing recognition that
recruiting-by itself and irrespective of selection-is critical not only for sustained compet-
itive advantage but basic organizational survival (Taylor & Collins, 2000). Reflecting this
importance, there have been several excellent reviews on recruitment (Breaugh & Starke,
2000; Highhouse & Hoffman, 2001; Rynes & Cable, 2003; Saks, 2005; Taylor & Collins,
2000). This review obviously does not provide the depth or detail of those reviews. Rather,
this review selects the more recent developments with the greatest implications for organi-
zational effectiveness.
An excellent place to start the review is with the recruitment meta-analysis conducted by
Chapman, Uggerslev, Carroll, Piasentin, and Jones (2005). They summarized 71 studies to
estimate the effect sizes and path relationships between recruiting predictors (job/organizational
attributes, recruiter characteristics, perceptions of recruitment process, perceived fit, perceived
alternatives, hiring expectancies) and applicant attraction outcomes (job pursuit intentions,
job/organization attraction, acceptance intentions, job choice). This meta-analysis helps
organize and clarify a rather diverse literature, and there are many specific findings, with the
key ones listed below:

" Perceptions of person-organization fit (PO fit) and job/organizational attributes were the
strongest predictors of the various recruiting outcomes. The next strongest set of predictors
tended to be perceptionsof the recruitmentprocess (e.g., fairness), followed by recruitercompe-
tencies and hiring expectancies. Interestingly, recruiterdemographics or functional occupation
showed almost no relationship to the recruitment outcomes.
"* Gender and study context (lab-field) were the only two moderators found to be important
(although others may exist that could not be tested). Interestingly, job/organizational attributes
and justice perceptions were weighed more heavily by real applicants, suggesting lab studies
may be primarily useful for studying early stages of recruitment.
"* There was support for mediated recruitment models, such that recruitment predictors influence
job attitudes and job acceptance intentions, which in turn influence job choice. Although accep-
tance intentions are the best proxy for actual job choice, they are an imperfect proxy.
"* Discouragingly, actual job choice was studied infrequently and was poorly predicted. On the
other hand, given the nominal nature of job choice measures, one must wonder how large this
effect should be.

Overall, there is good support linking many recruitment predictors to intention and per-
ceptual criteria. The attributes of the job/organization and fit with the job/organization will
influence intentions and (modestly) behavior. Hard criteria are infrequently studied, and
when they are, the relationships are much smaller. We need to know how large these rela-
tionships could be, or can be, for the top predictors. Finally, demographics of both the appli-
cant and recruiter seem to play a minor role, although individual differences may be more

Consequently. person-group. organizational criteria pre- dicted best by PO fit perceptions). Kristof-Brown. Taking a different perspective. if each type of fit predicts different outcomes.g. Although they found both types of fit were related. According to the authors. As one might expect. Jansen. or whether the work meets an individual's needs) and supplementaryfit (operationalized as value congruence.. & Johnson. one can speculate that each also has different antecedents (as do complementary fit and supplementary fit). PO fit related most strongly to organizational criteria. they argued both complementary fit and supplementary fit can focus on the same dimensions (e. and antecedents of subjective fit. On the other hand. they are not redundant because each type appears to provide unique prediction for specific crite- ria. recent research on the structure and measurement of subjective fit perceptions finds there are many different types. symbolic attributes). or whether an organization's culture and values are similar to those of the individual). Cable and DeRue (2002) argued for three types of subjective fit perceptions. participation. The Chapman et al. PJ fit was unrelated to any of the criteria. For example. image. They found discriminant validity for the three types of fit.. and each type showed some unique relationships with different criteria. 2005). Ployhart / Staffing Review 871 Person-EnvironmentFit Perceived person-environment fit (PE fit) is arguably the central construct in recruitment and has been an active area of research (see Ostroff & Judge. PO fit represents the congruence between the applicant's values and the organization's culture.g. Even though the various types are related to each other. and NS fit related most strongly to job/career criteria. suggest multiple types of fit have broad implications for numerous criteria. but all con- verge around the finding that this image has important effects on recruitment outcomes. brand. person-job (PJ)fit represents the congruence between the applicant's competencies and the competency demands of the job. This . and another focused solely on fit (Kristof-Brown. and Colbert (2002) found support for a three-level conceptualization of fit: person-job. 2005).g. Interestingly. and needs-supplies (NS)fit represents the congruence between the applicant's needs and the rewards provided by the job. Truly understanding the consequences of fit perceptions will require correctly identify- ing the appropriate form of fit for the particular criterion (e. whereas supplementary fit emphasizes the relative importance on each dimension. measurement. in press). Zimmerman. Participants not only made distinctions between these types of fit but also combined them in fairly compli- cated ways. Thus. research has begun to examine the meaning. Employer image has been examined by different researchers using different operationalizations (e. and person-organization. but they differ such that complementary fit emphasizes an amount on each dimension. autonomy). reputation.. (2005) meta-analysis. each independently predicted the same criteria (and of approximately equal magnitude). Employer Brand Image One clear finding in recent recruitment research is the importance of the employer's image or reputation (Saks. More important. Cable and Edwards (2004) examined the similarities and differences between comple- mentaryfit (operationalized as psychological need fulfillment.

and advertising to create a positive brand image. Using multiple practices pro- duced a stronger effect.g.. having more applicants should allow the organization to make finer distinctions and be more selective of top talent. so the only way to differentiate two organizations is in terms of their symbolic attributes.. and location. Collins and Han (2004) conducted a similar study but examined between-organization differences in early recruiting practices. both low.and high-ability applicants were likely to apply to organizations with a favorable reputation. Lievens and Highhouse (2003) took the marketing perspective a step further and intro- duced the instrumental-symbolic framework to recruiting. brand image allows people to differentiate the product from com- petitors' products. For example. Business Week). . When the image is positive. Collins and Stevens (2002) argued that in the early stages of recruitment. Turban and Cable (2003) showed how the reputation of an organization. and firm reputation. On the downside. location). These symbolic attributes also provided a more useful source of differentiation between competi- tors. employer advertising. More important. brand equity research suggests that organizations can create a market- ing advantage by fostering recognition and favorable impressions of the organizations' brand. On the upside. word-of-mouth. it creates positive attitudinal reactions to the organization and the product's attributes. Slaughter. Highhouse. pay. Zickar. jobs may be highly similar in terms of pay. they even found participants would accept a 7% smaller salary as a result of joining a firm with a highly favorable reputation. whereas symbolic attributes represent the subjective meanings and inferences that people ascribe to the job and organization. Interestingly.872 Journal of Management / December 2006 review examines all such research under the heading employer brand image (see Collins & Stevens. For example. Firms with more positive reputations increased the number of applicants and influenced applicant behavior. sponsorship of universities and schools. demonstrating recruiting practices and organizational information can have organizational-level consequences. operationalized as the organization's ranking in various popular business publications (e. which in turn influenced applicant decisions. There are many similarities facing marketing and recruiting depart- ments. These organizational trait inferences were also related to attraction. and Mohr (2004) developed an individual measure of organi- zational personality and found individuals use organizational trait inferences to distinguish them from each other. had an effect on objective applicant pool characteristics.g. Collins and Stevens (2002) have borrowed from the marketing literature to consider the concept of brandequity. 2002). They found these practices and information positively influenced applicant quality and quantity. Similarly. More important. thus increasing recruiting costs. For example. These symbolic attributes tend to be expressed in terms of trait or personality inferences. they found symbolic attributes provided incremental explana- tion of organizational attractiveness beyond that provided by instrumental attributes. benefits. Instrumental attributes tend to represent objective job and organizational attributes (e. Fortune. organizations can use publicity. These practices are particularly important in the early stages because the applicants have little information about the firm. Advertising was the most important determinant of multiple measures of quality and quantity. Cable and Turban (2003) helped explain these results by showing that applicants use the firm's reputation as a signal about the job attributes and as a source of pride from being a member. They found these practices (excluding sponsorship) influenced employer brand image.

Truxillo. 2002) and can influence both applicant and organizational-level recruiting outcomes (Collins & Han. tests). Unfortunately. An individual experiences stereotype threat when he or she perceives there is a negative stereotype about his or her group's performance on some task. Employer brand image offers a way for organizations to differentiate themselves among applicants. stereotype threat has not been found to explain subgroup test performance differences in selection contexts. Examples of stereotype threat include Blacks performing on intelligence tests. These studies call into question the theory's applicability to employment testing contexts. Reactions and test-takerperformance. 2003). Sanchez. 2003).g. giving special emphasis to fairness. Fostering favorable employer brand image can be accomplished through advertising and similar practices (Collins & Stevens. One of the key constructs in applicant reactions is test-taking motivation. A special issue of Human Performance in 2003 was devoted to four studies that manipulated stereotype threat for Blacks and women in simulated selection contexts. giving special emphasis to understanding whether demographic differences in per- ceptions and reactions explain demographic differences in test performance. Despite considerable appeal. even when they cannot compete in terms of location or wages. organizational culture. and organizational values. Turban & Cable. The first examines the perceptions and reactions that influence test-taker perfor- mance. Together. interviews. this research provides important insights into how organizations can use their reputation and climate to attract and retain applicants.. Most of this research has focused on examining the implications of stereotype threat in selection or "high-stakes" testing contexts. prior research had been plagued with a hodgepodge of motiva- tion measures with questionable construct validity. Ployhart / Staffing Review 873 Overall. It will be important to learn how symbolic attributes are similar/different to employer brand image. There has also been active research linking demographic differences in selection percep- tions and reactions to test performance. and cannot be substituted (Turban & Cable. employer brand image offers another possibility of sustained competitive advantage because it is rare. 2004. valuable. women performing on math tests. A review by Ryan and Ployhart (2000) identified two main streams of applicant reactions research. difficult to imitate. the threat of confirming that negative stereotype interferes with the person's performance (there are other conditions that must be met that are too detailed to discuss). Stereotype threat has its origins in social psychology. Applicant Reactions Research on applicant reactions is similar to recruitment but focuses specifically on how applicants perceive and react to personnel selection practices (e. and Whites performing on physical tasks. Commentaries by Sackett (2003) and Steele and Davies (2003) present interesting alternative explanations of the . The second examines a variety of attitudinal perceptions and reactions to selection practices. and Bauer (2000) addressed this problem by developing a more construct-valid measure of test-taking motiva- tion that is based on valence-instrumentality-expectancy (VIE) theory. which is theoretically a proximal determinant of selection predictor performance. This measure should prove useful and widely applicable.

no consistent pattern emerged about which context produced higher/lower effect sizes. demographics) and outcomes (e. self-efficacy/ self-esteem).g. and Thomas (2004) summarized 86 studies and examined a host of applicant reaction predictors (e. 2000). organizational attractiveness. followed by cognitive ability tests. There is good support linking many applicant reaction predictors to intention and perceptual criteria. J. job-related/face valid. explanations. "* Interviews and work samples are perceived most favorably.There have been several advancements in understand- ing applicants' attitudinal perceptions and reactions. In some cases. job relatedness. Bauer.g. Note that the slightly stronger effect size for justice variables in lab contexts is counter to Chapman et al.g. a meta-analysis by Hausknecht. Perhaps we should be studying staffing managers' reactions to staffing practices because these are likely to have a strong impact on their implementation decisions.. The lack of stereotype threat effect was also found in a high-stakes field study by M. and most staffing managers probably consider these reactions when deciding whether to implement a particular practice. justice rules like consistency. applicant decision making. and are explained to applicants will be perceived more favorably.. Day. These reactions should matter a great deal to organizations competing for talent. firefighter). biodata.874 Journal of Management / December 2006 findings. "* Nearly half of the studies in this meta-analysis were based on student samples. "* Many of the studies used intentions and perceptual measures as criteria. as the relationships were quite large. Cullen. conscientiousness with test-taking motivation). test motivation. As noted above. and Sackett (2004). a special issue of the International Journal of Selection and Assessment published in 2003 presented a variety of new theoretical developments. but links to objective criteria and actual decisions are much more limited. (2005). . Overall. with most of the others based on civil service positions (e. Job relatedness and face validity appear to be the most impor- tant perceptions. Truxillo.g. Sanchez. Ferrara. These articles represent several new and different theories for studying applicant reactions and should serve to stimulate considerable empirical research. One may question the discriminant validity of these criteria. although personality-based perceptions are slightly stronger with some criteria (e. To summarize the major findings: "* In general. and the applicant attribution process. police. and Campion (2001) made an important methodological contribution by developing a measure of procedural justice applicable to selection contexts. Attitudinalperceptions and reactions. It is disap- pointing that we still do not know whether applicant reactions influence applicant behavior and choices in the private sector. procedural and distributive justice. and honesty tests. actual test motivation and performance are enhanced. selection procedures that are perceived as consistent. Craig. Finally.. including understanding when fairness most matters. there are several themes consistent with the Chapman et al. Resumes and references are perceived more favorably (but not significantly) than cognitive ability. The demographics of the applicant show small relationships with the various outcomes. Although there were many differ- ences between the lab-field contexts and a slight trend for stronger relationships in lab studies. predictor type. First. the role of applicant expectancies.. Second. Hardison. which are followed by personality tests. this area has been plagued by poor measures (Ryan & Ployhart. (2005) meta-analysis.

Cullen. Levy. Brown. Web sites should be up-to-date. etc. Descriptive information about Web site faqade and usability was provided by Cober. yet research has been slow to catch up. and search behavior and Web site attitude then influence image and familiarity. & Keeping. An entire special issue of the InternationalJournalof Selection and Assessment (2003) examined these issues. Brown. These in turn influ- ence applicant attraction to the organization. easy to navigate. & King. 2001. They consider the interaction between form. 2004. 2003). This is finally starting to change. 2003.. fit messages). For example. Brown. compensation information. and how many differences in applicant quantity and quality. to using the Internet as a means to screen and process applicants (discussed shortly). and it appears that the job search behavior of a siz- able minority is influenced by Web sites (Karr. Cober. et al. PracticalRecommendations and Implicationsfor OrganizationalEffectiveness Recruitment efforts are likely to be most effective when an organization emphasizes fit information. 2000). con- tent. they identified a number of common features and decomposed the Web sites into three dimensions: form (e. Cober.. Brown. treats applicants with fairness and respect. content (e. Lepak. Brown. Usability and search behavior influence attitudes toward the Web site. vividness. This use ranges from massive job search engines such as Monster. Keeping." for 2 years. Cober.. Keeping. Examining the Web sites of Fortune's"100 Best Companies to Work For. et al.g. But there is a long way to go. Keeping. culture. Theoretical and classification work by Cober and colleagues (Cober. uses job-related procedures and explains the .. aesthetically appealing.. Jones & Dage. The Internet has become an important job search tool for applicants. Cober. which in turn influence perceptions of Web site usability and search behavior. to providing job and career information on the organization's Web site. Ash. interactivity. & Levy. research has found the Internet can be an effective means to influence fit perceptions (Dineen. and Levy (2004) presented a model describing how organizational Web sites influence applicant attraction. selects and trains recruiters. In their model. What are the truly critical features of a Web site that most affect recruitment outcomes? How much real-world impact. reduce turnover. Finally.g. 2002) and applicant attraction (Cober. pictures. 2004) is particularly helpful in identifying the main features of Web sites that should be examined. The little prescriptive advice this research can offer is helpful even if sometimes obvious (e. There can be no question that research on Internet recruitment must continue. and Levy (2004). Williamson. 2003).com. online applications). These are nothing short of radical transformations. Brown. Ployhart / Staffing Review 875 Internet Recruiting Organizations have been using the Internet as a recruiting mechanism almost as soon as it became popular. or actual job choices are based on organizational Web sites? Do they increase fit..g.. & Noe. and func- tion (e. provides details about the job and organization. and function to be critical. J. the Web site's fayade influences the affective reactions of job seeks. diversity images).g. or improve job satisfaction among applicants? How do recruitment Web sites fit into mainstream recruiting research? Does this medium present any substantive differences from other recruiting mediums? Is the Internet a more efficient or effective recruiting medium? How do different racial and ethnic groups react to Web sites? We simply do not know much about these questions. 2004. B. This research has scarcely scratched the surface.

little effect for recruiter diversity). & Wiechmann. Personnel Selection Best Practices Personnel selection practices (e. complex theories specific to each kind and level of fit. but Saks's assertion poses a serious challenge to recruitment research. Even though there has been a great deal of research on recruitment over the last thirty years (Breaugh & Starke. the present review summarizes the major new developments.). 2006). Ingerick. Schmitt. Web site design. how stage of recruit- ment affects practical effectiveness. consistent. articulates the right employer brand image.g. easy to use. As Saks so eloquently argued. as well as discussions of research and practical applications (Guion & Highhouse. how recruitment practices influence actual job choice. 2004). Furthermore. but the application will be lost in the details. it is fair to say that a) there are few practical implications for recruiters and organizations.g. & Schmitt. and provide the appropriate content for their purpose. Evers. and coherent recruiting campaign (perhaps marketing and recruiting departments should work together?!).g. Anderson. organizations that use Web sites for recruitment should ensure they are aesthetically pleasing. 2000). Ryan & Tippins. and ultimately creates a unified. and there are new practical implications (e. ability and personality tests) continue to cap- ture the most attention from staffing scholars.. Consider that despite impressive theoretical precision around some key aspects of recruitment research. b) the practical implications that can be gleaned from recruitment research have been known for more than a decade.. there is still little information about such basic practical recruitment challenges as how to best recruit a diverse workforce/use targeted recruiting (Avery & McKay. Web site design. and perhaps most important. and c) the main practical implications are at best obvious and at worst trivial.. 2003). there is considerably more that must be learned to increase the practical usefulness of recruitment. fit perceptions).. 2006. Cortina. interviews. New Developments in Selection Practices This section considers new developments in selection practices. Rather than review all this research. not having answers to these questions represents a missed opportu- nity to convey the value of recruitment research. There is a danger that recruitment research will fragment itself into very complex micro theories (e. Ployhart. whether recruitment research offers a meaningful impact on organizationaleffectiveness. 2005. etc. Although these are helpful implications. 2006. Only those practices that have been the most active area of research or are likely to show the most important practical . (2005: 69) Not all findings appear obvious (e. & Voskuijl.876 Journal of Management / December 2006 purpose of the selection process. At a time when organizations struggle with recruitment issues more than ever before. Advancements in recruiting theory have been important. Schneider.g.g. employer brand image.. but do they correspond to advancements in application? Table I lists a collection of key research-practice gaps in need of more attention. There are several comprehensive reviews of selection practices (e.

The main emphasis of recent cognitive ability selection research has been to identify ways of using cognitive ability that do not negatively affect racial diversity. and manage it? How do organizations that lack a familiar brand image compete? Recruitment and staffing practices influence Do reactions influence applicant job choice and applicant perceptions and intentions. and lawyers? Applicants and organizations use the Internet for How much real-world impact do Web sites have on recruitment. using outcomes such as applicant quantity. This issue seems to polarize the profession like no other. content. multifirm. and demonstrate the business value of recruitment. 2003) and a recent published debate on the subject . job search processes. and which are desirable but not necessary? Organizations struggle with finding the best ways to How can organizations best attract and retain a attract and retain a diverse applicant pool. as evidenced by surveys of staffing researchers (Murphy. non-HR managers. human resource (HR) managers. Cronin. and job choice behavior? What are the truly critical Web site form. Cognitive ability tests are first considered because they are among the most predictive of selection practices but exhibit such large racial subgroup differences that the other practices discussed in this section have become increasingly important. behavior in the private sector'? Do reactions to staffing processes operate similarly for applicants. and competency of human capital. present it. Cognitive ability. & Tam. recruitment outcomes. What are the antecedents and consequences of each type of fit'? How do applicants actually acquire and combine fit perceptions over time? What can organizations do to most effectively influence fit perceptions? Employer brand image is an effective means to What should an organization actually do with brand differentiate the firm from competitors. diverse applicant pool? What are the most effective recruitment practices for enhancing diversity? HR managers struggle to determine how to Need more organizational-level. image information to effectively influence job choice? How do organizations best acquire a brand image. multi-level recruitment research. quality. Ployhart / Staffing Review 877 Table 1 Key Recruitment Research-Practice Gaps What We Know What We Need to Know There are multiple types of subjective fit perceptions. implications are discussed. and function attributes.

minimizing reading requirements. Research in this area would benefit from examining combinations of strate- gies. 2002). . which concluded there was not much support for personality validity (see Schmitt.Research on personality in selection contexts continues to be active. & Barrick. are described in Sackett. This concern is not restricted to academics. enhancing face validity.878 Journal of Management / December 2006 (Human Performance. 2005) of personality-performance relationships. the now-classic meta-analysis by Barrick and Mount (1991) found personality traits (as measured on the FFM) demonstrated criterion-related validity for various criteria. none of these strategies will by themselves reduce subgroup dif- ferences to the point of creating a perfect balance. orga- nizations will be tempted to avoid using them or use nonvalid procedures simply because they allow them to achieve strategic diversity goals. There have been advancements in understanding the mediators (Barrick. Baron. 1993).g. However. a recent meta-analysis showed traits "narrower" than conscientiousness could provide incremental validity over global conscientiousness (Dudley. There are few who can argue with that statement because the validities were not zero. Many advocates for personality testing tend to emphasize the corrected validities estimated from meta-analysis and the valid- ity of "compound" traits (e. 2002) and moderators (Barrick. and Ployhart (2001). New strategies are being evaluated. Parks. or alternatively. and Page (1999) surveyed 959 organizations from 20 countries and found that compared to the grand mean of all countries. but it is a very real issue in the practitioner community. Lebiecki. For example. They discuss numerous strategies that may reduce subgroup differences. and Kabin (2001) and Hough. 2004).g. Much of this research is summarized in books by Barrick and Ryan (2003) and Schneider and Smith (2004). Schmitt. Stewart. For example. For example.. The challenges with balancing validity and diversity. 2006). & Mount. the United States was less likely to use cognitive ability tests and used fewer tests in general (see also Terpstra & Rozell. weighting criterion dimensions to de-emphasize task performance. ensuring the assessments have minimal reading requirements. Research has reconsidered traits less broad than those from the Five Factor Model (FFM). & Piotrowski. Fulmer. Stewart. Personality. & Cortina. why the validities are so "low. supplementing cognitive with relevant noncognitive predictors (or using situational judgment tests or assessment centers). and engendering favorable reactions might jointly reduce subgroup differences. but employers must recognize that the sole use of cognitive ability may impair their ability to hire a diverse workforce. Orvis. There has also been research examining how personality contributes to team performance (e. the argument comes down to whether the magnitudes of the validities are of prac- tical benefit.. This may seem unlikely to those within the scientific community. McFarland. service orientation). even though organi- zations may have the opportunity to implement them. and offering training and preparation oppor- tunities. along with a considerable amount of research. whereas critics tend to emphasize the uncorrected validities and the homogenous traits." The uncorrected validities have not changed much since Guion and Gottier (1965) and earlier reviews. Although valuable. An entire special issue at Human Performance(2005) considered this topic. Offsetting these advancements are nagging questions to some of the most basic issues. Ellingson. Ryan. We know almost nothing about combinations of strategies. 2005). Oswald. For example. This situation surely must change because as long as the best selection methods negatively affect diversity. such as supplementing cognitive tests with noncog- nitive tests.

2001). in applicant settings the mean scores are higher. It is worth noting that the . Wiechmann. Schmitt. and for good reasons. and small to moderate gender/ethnic differences (Weekley. one wonders whether they are distracting the field from other important topics. it doesn't matter much what our literature says about faking because they will probably discount that as well! Situationaljudgment tests (SJTs). but has any of this research resulted in changes in how personality testing is conducted in private industry? The Ryan et al. 2001). the validity is about . A notable measurement approach to reduce faking may come from research on con- ditional reasoning by James (1998). 2004). there is convergence around some key issues: Compared with incumbent settings. 2006).. Respondents are given several behavioral choices for addressing the sit- uation and are then asked to indicate which options are most/least effective. see Schneider & Smith. and impression management. For example. & Harold. Pereira. 2004). SJTs show at least moderate validity (.07 is approximately half the size of the typ- ical uncorrected validity for the FFM constructs. and are useful for training and . and the fac- tor structures are highly similar (Hough. it does not appear faking renders personality tests useless in selection contexts. A closely related topic concerns applicant faking. Campion. but Ployhart et al. corrected r = . misrepresent their responses to such an extent that validity is compromised. They appear applicable for selection at all levels. incremental validity over other predictors (Clevenger. who may be motivated to present the best pos- sible impression.07 validity decrement noted by Hough (1998) is frequently cited as a "small" reduction.26. This topic dominated research in the late 1990s. Several approaches have been researched to help reduce faking. 1998. Ployhart / Staffing Review 879 applied experience suggests many practitioners and human resource (HR) managers remain skeptical of personality testing because these validities appearso small. Morgeson. (1999) study described earlier found the United States is less likely to use personality tests relative to other coun- tries. Has there been any evidence that implementation of personality testing has improved organizational or business unit effectiveness? This would be a more definitive means to set- tle the debate over personality validities. The issue is whether applicants. For example. Ployhart. However.34. SJTs are predictor methods that present applicants with work-related situations. It is frustrating that debates about personality validity and faking continue. & Braverman. McDaniel.07 lower. if organizational decision makers look at the typical self-report personality test and discount it because they think it can be faked. or use of response laten- cies to catch lying. and frankly. Research and prac- tical applications of SJTs have exploded in the past several years. & Harvey. has any of the personality research during the past decade produced any noticeable changes in practice? Staffing consultants and civil service organizations appear more likely to offer personality tests than a decade before. Each has its own limitations and potential benefits (see Ployhart et al. response distortion. Overall. including the use of social-desirability scales. (2006) noted that . explicit warnings against faking. Do nonstaffing experts "believe in" personality test- ing? Applied experience suggests they often do not. Finnegan. but there is still no professional consensus about whether faking limits the practical usefulness of personality in selection contexts. but this work has yet to see widespread application. can be used to help prepare individuals for international assignments. so personality validity and faking debates become less important if there is not much enthusiasm to use them in the first place. but faking may reduce the usefulness of per- sonality tests and possibly decrease the ability to distinguish between applicants because of inflated scores.

as do a number of operational issues such as faking. Gentry. and exercises present in assessment centers. organization/planning. given the some- what context-dependent nature of judgment. Lievens. The average assessment center uses approximately five exercises to measure 10 competencies. and Campion (2002) published an extensive narrative review that does an excel- lent job of organizing the massive interviewing literature. However. & Gilliland. 2000). and numerous theoretical and practi- cal recommendations were offered. in fact. moti- vation. They are predictor methods rather than assessments of homogeneous competencies. and struc- ture. Posthuma. Second. certainly good but much smaller than that often-cited . role-play) designed to measure multiple competencies. and Maldegen (2000). 2004). Arthur. & Conway. optimal scoring. Assessment centers present applicants with a variety of exercises (e. Lievens (2002) has helped identify why assessment centers demonstrate exercise factors. have construct validity. persuasion/influence.33. Recent research has made important strides in understanding why this occurs and showing assess- ment centers do. particularly psychologists. McNelly. and Edens (2003). even in the presence of exercise factors. scores on assessment centers demonstrate "exercise" factors rather than "construct" factors. communication.880 Journal of Management / December 2006 development. However. First. and McFarland (2005) found work samples show a cor- rected criterion-related validity of . Payne. Roth. His research suggests that construct validity may be most determined by applicant behavior. Gewin. scaling. Thus. assessment centers have been plagued by an apparent lack of construct validity. evidence to support their criterion-related validity has accumulated. Lance. It is also true that convergent validity will be enhanced when trained asses- sors. Work samples. they tend to be received favorably by applicants and HR personnel. Day. assessment centers appear to have construct validity. The interview continues to attract considerable research attention. and Woehr and Arthur (2003) have summarized the validity. Work samples may also show subgroup differences greater than previously thought.. Specifically. Woehr. Goldstein. Morgeson. what they measure and why they are effective remain unclear. although more research on this topic is necessary (Ployhart et al. Lambert. and problem solving. 2006). A meta-analysis by Huffcutt. a more up-to- date meta-analysis by Roth. this puts them on par with SJTs). meta-analyses by Arthur. There is also concern whether SJTs can be implemented cross-culturally. An entire book on SJTs edited by Weekley and Ployhart (2006) had leading experts discuss these issues. 2004.. Because the questions present realistic work situations. constructs.54 in the classic Hunter and Hunter (1984) publication (indeed. Although they have long been known to demonstrate moderate to high levels of criterion-related validity. It is believed that work samples provide one of the best ways to simultaneously achieve validity and diversity. mock presentation. Conway. Foster. Work samples present applicants with a set of tasks or exercises that are nearly identical to those performed on the job. Davison. Research has clearly found that structured interviews are more predictive than unstructured interviews or even interviews with less structure (Cortina. with the 6 most common being interpersonal skills/social sensitivity. Thus. and Stone (2001) identified seven latent dimensions most . conduct the evaluations.g. Assessment centers. Bobko. Interviews. & Thoresen. applicants must demonstrate high consistency across exercises but also high variability across dimen- sions (see also Lance.

. but practitioners also con- sider such factors as cost. ability to administer the test globally in real time. structured inter- views had smaller racial subgroup differences than unstructured interviews. but it is not the only factor influencing final acceptance. & Kriska. Summary. 2004). convergent/discriminant validity. and Bobko (2002) found that failing to consider such statistical artifacts results in underestimates of differences (this issue is relevant for all pre- dictors). and standardized scoring and administration. knowledge and skills. Selection Using the Internet Nearly every major staffing firm has adapted some form of Internet-based testing. assessment centers) is their generally lower racial/gender subgroup differences and greater face validity. Van Iddekinge. interests and preferences. Ryan. This is one area where HR managers are in desperate need of research advice. And validity by itself rarely convinces organizational decision makers of business unit value. Interestingly. Panel interviews composed of diverse interviewers may help further reduce subgroup differences. Research may be close to solving the construct validity question for assess- ment centers. Research on these meth- ods tends to first demonstrate their criterion-related validity and then tries to understand their construct validity. Ployhart / Staffing Review 881 assessed by interviews: cognitive ability.. and subgroup differences. personality. A comment on this entire line of research is that researchers tend to limit their focus to correlations with various individual-level criteria. 2006). moving from a paper format to a Web format requires one to demonstrate the equivalence of the two formats (e. One must won- der if part of the appeal in selection methods (SJTs. but to date there has been little forthcoming (relative to the increase in application). and physical abilities and attributes. in large part because there is more legal scrutiny with selection practices. and many organizations have already migrated from paper to Web-based selection.g. The rush to use this delivery platform is appealing: efficiency and cost savings. Has this research had an effect on managers' decisions to implement these methods? Are the more valid predictors more likely to be implemented. 2003) and that interview anxiety is a construct that can influence interview performance (McCarthy & Goffin. Research on these and other selection practices will continue. 2004). although the findings are quite complex (McFarland. These are obviously important issues. fit. but it will surely dominate the study of SJTs for the next several years (Schmitt & Chan. For example. or do job relatedness perceptions override validity concerns? Validity is important. leadership).g. It is important to consider unreliability and range restriction when examining these subgroup differences. Roth. research has found that structure can influence impression management (McFarland. With respect to interview validity. social skills (e. manager acceptability. & Kriska. and structured interviews tended to measure different constructs than unstructured interviews. and so on. Eidson. most of the individual-differences selection researchers study! The most common dimensions assessed were social skills and personality. Schmidt and Zimmerman (2004) used meta- analysis to show that it takes about four unstructured interviews to equal the reliability of one structured interview. So basi- cally. Ryan. Huffcutt. Sacco. Finally. Potosky & Bobko. efficiency. The issues involving Web-based selection are quite different from Web-based recruitment. .

work samples.. Holtz. For example. 2006. 2003). including validity. There appear to be meaningful benefits to administering assessments over the Internet. subgroup differences. or SJTs. see the special issue of International Journalof Selection andAssessment. Ployhart. 2004). PracticalRecommendations and Implicationsfor OrganizationalEffectiveness Organizations wishing to best balance diversity and prediction should use selection meth- ods such as assessment centers.. many core and central issues with Web testing. For example. But organizations will continue to use Web-based testing regardless of whether anyone publishes research on this topic or not. This seems astonishing. If using Web-based testing. for now. One suspicion is that most research in this area is driven by practice rather than theory and hence is not applicable to academically oriented journals. and reactions. Although they exhibit subgroup dif- ferences. research on Internet surveys does not capture the critical evaluative component of staffing. There are a variety of legal issues surrounding Internet testing.882 Journal of Management / December 2006 2004). Research interest in this topic is growing (e. Weekley. It would be informative for research . it represents a substantial missed opportunity for the science of staffing to have a direct positive impact on staffing practice. but many of the same basic issues present with traditional employment test- ing are present with Internet testing (Naglieri et al. and other research on Internet measurement simultaneously finds evidence for less and more social desirability.. Despite all the attention focused on selection practices.. 2003). there are still many questions that need additional research. for an sampling of opinions). However. utility. Use of cognitive ability tests will require the implementation of multiple strategies to reduce sub- group differences. Research-practice gaps are summarized in Table 2 and offered as a stimulus for directing future research. with some studies finding equiva- lence (Salgado & Moscoso. research to date suggests they are smaller than those found with cognitive ability yet show comparable levels of validity and probably more favorable user reactions (note one should always ensure the smaller subgroup differences are not due to lower reliability). so it seems there could be some value in publishing major descriptive stud- ies . there is a need for more creative pri- mary studies to test questions about construct validity. Only limited research has examined this question. one that is specific to employment testing contexts. Long-term understanding in this area will require strong theory to explain the uniqueness of Internet testing. and as with Internet recruiting. but we know very little about the consequences of using Web-based assessment. have not been pub- lished. until a research database is developed that can inform such practices.. 2003) and other studies not (but with results favoring the Web- based test. Solid theoretical work in this area is long overdue and would have great benefit. & Kemp. The safest thing an organization can do (for now) is to collect the content or criterion-related validity evidence necessary to sup- port the Web-based procedure. and there is no clear pro- fessional consensus over whether unproctored testing is appropriate or feasible (see Tippins et al.g. One approach that also enhances validity is to include a battery of cogni- tive ability and personality predictors (as necessitated by job demands). one must then choose between proctored versus unproctored Internet testing.

g. personality. Ployhart / Staffing Review 883 Table 2 Key Personnel Selection Research-Practice Gaps What We Know What We Need to Know Well-developed predictors (e. Which combinations are most effective'? Are particular strategies more likely to be implemented? There remain concerns about using personality tests What are managers' perceptions of faking and in practice (e. What are the critical elements of structure.g.. multi-level selection research using unit-level outcomes.. cost. and the business value of selection.. subgroup differences. including unproctored Internet testing. Do SJTs show cross-cultural generalizability? How does one best score. and so on when making choices about predictors? Situational judgment tests have useful levels of Can situational judgment tests (SJTs) be faked/are validity with small to moderate subgroup they faked? differences. What barriers exist to organizations adopting interviews. acceptability. economic return. user testing. diversity? What types of selection practices do such organizations use in this situation? There are multiple strategies that help reduce Can combinations of strategies eliminate adverse subgroup differences on selection systems. structure. validity? How can validity be enhanced'? How can faking be reduced? Has personality research had an effect on employment testing in private industry? Human resource managers struggle to demonstrate Need more organizational-level. multifirm. assessment centers) have different predictors? empirical relationships with job performance. validity. impact? particularly those using cognitive ability. diversity efficiency. Research on staffing and its relation to strategy is sorely needed. and scale SJTs? Can SJTs target particular constructs? There is new evidence for the construct validity of Can one develop predictor methods to target specific many predictor methods (e.g. cognitive ability. faking. and related factors compare between Internet assessments and traditional assessments? What are the key implementation issues with Web-based testing? For which constructs is proctoring necessary? What theories explain the uniqueness of Internet testing? Many job-related predictors have Do employers use suboptimal procedures in this racial/ethnic/gender subgroup differences that situation because it allows them to achieve interfere with organizations' diversity goals. faking). What influences decision makers' choices about using predictors? Why is evidence for these predictors so frequently discounted? How do decision makers weight validity. assessment centers. and which are desirable? Companies and consultants have embraced Internet How do validity. constructs? interviews). .

one described in nearly every textbook written on the subject. This is interesting given the most basic staffing assumption. That is. 1993). & Rozell. utility.884 Journal of Management / December 2006 to shift from asking.. If it does not. but we may often be interested in questions of what could be done or what should be done. Mohamed.. constructs. Rynes et al. Ployhart. is that recruiting and hiring better employees contributes to organizational effectiveness.g. demonstrating these selection practices produce more effective business units and organizations? Selection researchers may be convinced of a predictor's merits based on its validity. How do managers choose between selection practices and make implementation decisions (e.g. It may be useful for research to not only ask. and influences outside its respective level. it is discouraging there is not more direct. then why invest in staffing? However. Meta-analysis provides an effective summary of what has been done. how could one develop an SJT. Finally. but they are only estimates that are limited to monetary outcomes and are frequently discounted by managers (Schneider. Smith. but private industry operates with a "satisficing" frame. The prob- lem is that including all the various aspects of structure will lead many organizations to not adopt structured interviews. 2002)? Is it manager igno- rance that causes effective practices to be ignored. For example. interview. Practitioners and HR managers often have to go well beyond validity (and even utility/monetary estimates) to make a case that staffing adds strategic value to the firm. "What can I do to most maximize interview validity?" but also ask. 2000). or is it simply impossible to implement many research-prescribed best practices? Selection research tends to follow a "maximizing" frame. 2000). Likewise. 2004. & Sipe. empir- ical evidence linking individual differences to organizational effectiveness. Multi-level Staffing: Linking Individual Staffing to Organizational Effectiveness The reviews of recruitment and selection practices both identified a need for research showing business unit value/organizational impact. "How can I structure predictor X to measure a particular construct?" Predictor methods can be structured in numerous ways. and subgroup differences. there is actually little direct. "What does predictor X measure?" (usually estimated through meta- analysis) to also asking. Take the research on struc- tured interviews. 1996)? Many organizations use suboptimal staffing proce- dures despite a wealth of knowledge about how to maximize hiring potential. but many man- agers are not. we know little about how these practices are actually implemented. micro. Terpstra & Rozell. Why is this knowledge base discounted or misunderstood (e. It is often impossible to make a business case for a selection practice based on validity. Terpstra.and macro-level research are both pri- .. is there any empirical evidence.. but each discipline rarely considers processes.g. Saks. empirical evidence testing this assumption (e. Utility analysis may be helpful to estimate these effects. "What minimally must I do to get the most validity?" We need to know what aspects of structure are critical and which are desirable.g. 2005. which suggests that more structured interviews are more valid. from a theoretical perspective. Taylor & Collins. or simulation to measure a single homogenous construct-or is it impossible? Similarly.. other than claims to utility analysis or manager self-reports (e. There is consid- erable staffing research at the micro (individual) level and some staffing research at the macro (organizational) level.

One important implication is that observations (e. Macro (organizational or busi- ness unit)-level research examines how HR practices (e. suggesting the very relevance of staffing may be ignored because of an inability to show unit-level value. Staffing may be one of the last holdouts to develop such multi-level theory. To ensure these assumptions are not fal- lacies. Micro (individual)-level research examines how individual differences (knowledge. Note that in macro research. 2002.. Schneider et al. 2000. for similar arguments). there would be no cause for concern. and ignoring it can influence estima- tion of effect sizes and significance testing (Bliese. But both disciplines make inferences and assumptions that extend beyond their respective levels. If both micro and macro disciplines limited their implications to their respective levels. 2005. followed by multi-level staffing models. 1995). organization) are likely to share similarities on particular KSAOs. staffing) contribute to organiza- tional performance but assumes that these practices have an effect because of their influence on employee KSAOs. Contextual effects are "top-down" effects from higher to lower levels (e.g.g. Schneider et al. 2000. (2000) strongly conveyed a need for multi-level staffing research. KSAOs) contribute to individual performance but assumes (or only estimates how) individ- ual differences contribute to organizational value. To connect levels. . 2004).g.. For example. employees) within a unit (e.. for example. changing an organization's HR practices changes the behavior of individual employees). Emergent effects are "bottom-up" effects from lower to higher levels.g. Kozlowski and Klein noted. but the focus is on the practice itself and not the specific human capital affected by the practice. these unit-level KSAOs are referred to as human capitaland rarely measured. research suggests that organizations using well-developed staffing practices have better performance (Huselid. abilities.. Wright & Boswell. Ployhart / Staffing Review 885 marily single-level disciplines because their independent and dependent variables are con- tained within the same level of analysis (Ployhart. Multi-level Theory Organizations are inherently nested and hierarchical. "A phenomenon is emergent when it originates in the cognition. 1985). 2000). This is known as nonindependence in statistical terms.. store. which are in turn nested within the firm. multi-level theory describes theoretical processes for both contextual effects and emergent effects. skills. Macro research is usually conducted from the perspective of strategy or strategic HR management (SHRM). Taylor & Collins. the next section introduces basic multi-level con- cepts critical to multi-level staffing. Micro research is usually conducted from the perspective of industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology. affect. individuals are nested within business units such as departments or stores. This is known as a cross-levelfallacy in multi-level research and occurs when researchers inappropriately generalize their within-level findings to higher or lower levels of analysis (Rousseau. Therefore. staffing research needs to connect micro and macro levels (see Saks. and other characteristics. Multi-level theory argues that ignoring such hierarchical structures can cause misleading interpretations and generalizations of within-level research findings (with cross-level fallac- ies being just one example). They argued multi-level theory and methods would be necessary to truly incorporate an organiza- tional perspective into staffing.

886 Journal of Management / December 2006 behaviors. 2002). the concept of emergence helps articulate the creation of a higher level construct from a lower level construct. and ultimately how practitioners can show the organizational value of staffing. On one hand. An example of a compilation model is diversity. to create a unit-level con- struct. Compilation models are usually based on the within-unit standard deviation. 2005) concepts neces- sary to build a multi-level staffing model linking micro and macro perspectives. Because they are based on similarity or homogeneity. This. compilation models of emergence theorize that variability (heterogeneity) among lower level observations (employees) represents a unique higher level construct. On the other hand. This review summarizes the common arguments across these publications. Together. how staffing practices might influence this process. there is no associated test necessary for "aggregation. theoretically and empirically. which may be represented as within-unit vari- ability in demographic characteristics. collective phenomenon" (2000: 55). and subsequent work by Ployhart and Schneider examined the practical (Ployhart & Schneider. An example of a composition model is when employees share such highly similar perceptions about their organization's climate that a company-level cli- mate variable is formed from the aggregation (mean) of employee climate perceptions. Multi-level theory is used to fuse these disciplines and explicate how individual differences contribute to the formation of unit differences. The bottom-up process of emergence is the critical theoretical mechanism that unites micro and macro staffing research because it helps understand how individual differences in KSAOs contribute to unit-level differences. helps one understand how measures of individual- level KSAOs should be aggregated. 2000). and methodological (Ployhart & Schneider. composition models of emergence theorize that there is such high similarity (homogeneity) among lower level observations (employees) that the within-unit scores create a distinct aggregate-level construct. . For example. this research articulates how individual differences create organizational differences. Note that it takes time for bottom-up effects to occur. (2000) described the basics for such a model. composition models are often operationalized as the mean of all within-unit observations. Multi-Level Staffing Models Multi-level staffing models are based on the integration of traditional micro-level staffing research with macro-level strategy and SHRM research. hence time must usually be a fundamental element in multi-level research (Kozlowski & Klein. Schneider et al. theo- retical (Ployhart." Both forms of emergence may exist simultaneously to represent the level (composition) and strength (compilation) of a unit-level phenomenon. is amplified by their interactions. in turn. Empirical justification for aggre- gation comes from intraclass correlations or agreement indices. or other characteristics of individuals. Thus. Kozlowski and Klein (2000) and Bliese (2000) described two different types of emergence that represent ends on a continuum. and man- ifests as a higher-level. Because a compilation model is based on variability and can only exist at the unit level. a department that hires applicants on the basis of their conscientiousness should become composed primarily of highly conscientious people. 2004).

KSAOs = knowledge. skills. but as a point of comparison. As noted earlier. The staffing practice represents a contextual (top-down) effect on the firm's individual KSAOs because all potential employees within a relevant job will be recruited and assessed using the same staffing system. . Notice that there are two levels in Figure 1. the micro (individual) level and the macro (organizational) level (these levels are only illustrative. Figure 1 illustrates the basic constructs and processes in multi-level staffing. Figure 1 is drawn so that the starting time begins with the implementation of a staffing practice. the dashed arrows denote the relationships examined in traditional staffing research. The solid arrows in Figure 1 thus highlight the unique aspects of multi-level modeling. because time is a fundamental part of multi-level modeling. Ployhart / Staffing Review 887 Figure 1 Basic Components of Multi-Level Staffing Models 0 C- Human Capital Advantage Contextual Effect for Human Staffing Capital Practice 0 I- a CD Time Note: Dashed lines indicate the subset of relationships examined by traditional single-level micro and macro research. All of the arrows in Figure 1 are considered in multi-level staffing models. First. and multiple intermediate levels are possible). and other characteristics. abilities. Figure 1 illustrates that these dashed arrows are each within a single level (micro or macro).

such that firms with higher quality human capital will outperform those with lesser quality human capital. Micro research assumes better individual-level selection results in better organizational-level performance. Thus. macro research assumes HR practices influence organizational performance because the practices influence human capital. Boxall. multi-level staffing models argue that what the ASA model calls homogeneity is actually human capital as described in the macro literature. 1987). researchers can more carefully articulate the structure and function of specific types of human capital (e.g. These points represent some important areas of departure between multi-level staffing models and traditional staffing models. Furthermore. 1991. human capital emergence represents the multi-level processes through which individual-level KSAOs become organizational or business unit-level human capital. However.. Finally. & Chalmers. This is known as human capital advantage in the macro literature (e. Third. and the process through which homogeneity occurs is human capital emergence. there is another means through which individual-level KSAOs may contribute to macro-level performance. Specifically. selected by. human capitalis the term used to describe the competencies of the firm's or business unit's workforce). This is based on the attraction-selection-attrition (ASA) model (Schneider.. Ganster. Thus. multi- level staffing models allow researchers to hypothesize and test the assumptions in both micro and macro staffing disciplines. Of course. First. multi-level theory can help better articulate homogeneity and con- nect it to the literature on macro staffing/SHRM. individual KSAOs will become similar within the job/organization over time and contribute to the emergence of macro-level human capital (recall that in strategy and SHRM research. Second. & . Herriot. unlike utility analysis. 1996). EmpiricalSupport Empirical support for aggregate-level human capital as a means to differentiate units has been found in several studies (Jordan. through the processes of human capital emergence and human capital advantage. Specifically. and this is through better individual performance that collectively improves the effectiveness of the firm. multi-level staffing models allow researchers to develop cross-level models of human capital. whereas many utility models would estimate this relationship via the aggregate sum of individual's performance contributions (rightmost vertical arrow in Figure 1). Schaubroeck.. Multi- level staffing models allow researchers to test both assumptions through developing models of human capital emergence and human capital advantage. human capital advantage). hiring more competent employees through the use of valid selection systems should con- tribute to better organizational performance. formula-based estimates are not necessary with multi- level staffing because human capital advantage represents the correlation between human capital and organizational performance. composition or compilation models). which suggests organizations will develop homogeneity in KSAOs that are similar to.888 Journal of Management / December 2006 Second. and retained within the organization. multi-level staffing predicts that human capital is a key determinant of organizational performance (i. organizational-level human capital contributes to the organization's performance.e.g. multi- level staffing models take a different approach to demonstrating the economic utility of staffing than traditional forms of utility analysis. through use of a particular selection system. By developing theories of emergence.

and the model offers a way to demonstrate that effect.. with different consequences. This is essentially the "value challenge" facing staffing managers and practitioners. who found human capital emergence (operationalized via personality) was hierar- chical such that emergence was stronger at lower than higher levels. for example. to satisfac- tion and performance. Staffing practices should help an organization achieve its strategic goals and vision (nearly always expressed in unit-level terms). In each study. unit mean human capital related positively. Four types of employment. There were also some Mean x Variance interactions. size). Smith. Ployhart and Schneider (2002. Ployhart (2004) described 15 implications of the model that demand future research. in turn.g. They also found evi- dence for both composition and compilation forms of human capital emergence. and Schmitt (2002) posed several practical questions to be considered (e. Slaughter et al. Schneider. This is nearly the same methodology used in job attitude/customer satisfaction linkage research.. are the best KSAO predictors of individual performance . Support for a multi- level model of human capital emergence was provided by Ployhart. Multi-level staffing also offers the opportunity to advance staffing theory. 1998). Although at the unit level there is likely a need for control variables (e. and Table 3 summarizes these and additional ones. The idea that human capital can exist in different forms. requires different types of staffing practices. Rather. the model offers a way to demonstrate the value of staffing by examining the relationships between individ- ual differences/human capital with individual outcomes/unit-level outcomes. were identified: knowledge based (commitment-based HR practices). For example. contract (compliance-based HR practices). This. In general. 1998. but different forms of human capital emer- gence will have different strategic value to the firm. How does job analysis change?). and Baughman (2006). 2005). they seek to extend this work by articulating the linkages between individual differences and organizational/business unit differences. not only is human capital emergence an important concept. occupations and/or organizations could be distinguished from each other in terms of the average personality characteristics of people within each unit (interestingly.g. such that vari- ability in human capital moderated the relationship between mean levels of human capital and outcomes. 2004). 2003). and there is an obvi- ous need for multiple units. and partnerships/alliances (collaborative-based HR practices). job based (productivity-based HR practices). Taylor. In this sense. & Fleenor. and unit variance related negatively. Thus. Weekley. most large organizations (and consultants) have ready access to these data (see Ployhart & Schneider. 2005) offered some tools for conducting and interpreting such a study. The premise is that the uniqueness and strategic value of human capital and knowledge influence the types of HR practices used to manage different employee groups. these findings are similar to research on organizational trait inferences noted earlier. Lepak and Snell (2002) found general support for this conceptualization using a sample of 148 firms.. Ployhart / Staffing Review 889 Jones. with corresponding HR con- figurations. PracticalRecommendations and Implicationsfor OrganizationalEffectiveness Multi-level staffing models do not negate the importance of single-level recruitment and selection research. selecting for longer term potential with knowledge-based employment while selecting for immediate job fit/performance with job-based employment. is well articulated by Lepak and Snell (1999.

Given that modem work continues to shift toward team-based and knowledge-based structures. are certain manifesta- tions of individual differences only predictive at higher levels (e. how do these combine to influence organizational effectiveness? Is human capital an inimitable or nonsubstitutable resource? Human resource managers struggle to determine Do differences in staffing practices translate into how to demonstrate the business value of staffing. these collective processes become important determinants of performance. What is the structure and function for different types demonstrates composition and compilation of human capital emergence? manifestations. Similarly. How much of a validity difference must be found at the individual level to translate into business unit differences? Framing the debate around personality testing from this perspec- tive might be a more compelling way to show the importance of personality. agreeableness does not show much validity at the individual level in technical jobs but in the aggregate may be predictive of business unit-level processes such as communication and social capital). consider that meta-analyses indicate cognitive ability tests are one of the most predictive selection methods available for most jobs- do business units or entire firms staffed with more cognitively able people outperform those who do not? The study by Terpstra and Rozell (1993) is often cited to support such a claim.890 Journal of Management / December 2006 Table 3 Key Multilevel Staffing Research-Practice Gaps What We Know What We Need to Know Human capital emergence is hierarchical.. sustained competitive advantage? Do findings from individual-level validity studies translate into better performing units? How do utility estimates compare to multi-level staffing estimates? Are managers more persuaded by multi-level staffing findings than utility? also the best human capital predictors of business unit performance? Or. and uniqueness. but their study only asked HR managers if they used ability testing and only asked them to self-report firm performance. consequences? Does human capital compilation moderate the effects of human capital composition? Organizations are staffed with different types of Are there different types of human capital necessary employees with different strategic value and for different types of employment groups. How do different types of human capital relate to criteria across levels? Are validities found at the individual level similar in magnitude to validities found at the organizational or business unit level? Human capital emergence has individual-level Does human capital emergence have unit-level consequences. .g.

personality. need. SHRM researchers should also start measuring human capital directly (through emergence) instead of relying on proxies (e. what is valuable. com- petitive advantage) is human capital. is their human capital of lesser quality? . Staffing is likely to push a strategic focus lower in the organization. Hitt. inimitable. This is an important benefit from top management's perspective. 2003).g. & DeNisi. From this perspective. or are willing to use? Theory and research must be conducted to understand this issue (see Terpstra et al. changes to organizational culture. Second. and competing organizations can and often do imitate a competitor's staffing practices. but this has existed within staffing for some time. 1994) have argued an organization's ability to attract and retain top talent can produce competitive advan- tage. Wright. and meta-analyses summarizing data on what now must be millions of people. but there is little research on using staffing as a tool for organizational change.. and values are inevitable (particularly when mov- ing to a different system). climate. First. and nonsub- stitutable resources offer sustained competitive advantage (see Jackson. values. quality of educational institution). However. how does staffing contribute to reinforcing/changing/articulating organizational culture. the aggregate individual differences linked to unit effec- tiveness. even "low-level" jobs and generic competencies could be strate- gic because it is difficult for competitors to develop such aggregate-level human capital. inimitable. most conceptualizations of the resource-based view (RBV) of the firm argue that valuable. staffing (particularly for lower level positions) is usually not considered strategic because the individual differences are common in the labor pool (they are generic). doing so is consistent with this review's focus on research-practice gaps and emphasis on organizational effectiveness. Wright and colleagues (Barney & Wright. Ployhart / Staffing Review 891 Multi-level staffing also has implications for SHRM. 1996). From this perspective. rare. such arrangements are hypothesized to offer low strategic value.e. numerous attempts to show the utility of staffing. 1998. why do managers so often fail to believe in our technology and science? Despite decades of research. Third. how is it that we have little understanding of what our customers want. rare. what are the consequences of outsourcing staffing? The outsourcing of HR is a major concern. Do they? Are firms that outsource staffing less effective than those that do it in-house. McMahan. and vision? When a decision is made to invest in staffing. In Lepak and Snell's (1999) model. Furthermore. & Williams. For example. why is so much of this evidence discounted? Are the research findings too vague to be of immediate practical application after the complexities of the real world are considered? What factors influence adoption of HR (staffing) technology and findings? If organizational decision makers are perhaps the ultimate consumers of our science. and possibly nonsubstitutable (i... Neglected Questions That Shouldn't Be Although it may be unusual to conclude a review with questions that have been almost completely neglected by researchers. climate. Shown below are entirely different questions that have important practical implications (and are challenging practical issues) but do not fit well into existing staffing frameworks or research.

Target practice: An organizational impression management approach to attract- ing minority and female job applicants.. Staffing should reign supremely strategic in the war for talent and sustained competitive advantage. Jr. R. 1998. Personnel Psychology. if any formal staffing is even practiced at all. or the answer is so onerous that it will never be implemented. Day. 2003. 26: 813-835. 2001. S. & Welsh. Managers often plea for tools to attract and hire better people. . The Big Five personality dimensions and job performance: A meta-analysis. but it is incumbent on staffing researchers and practitioners to show the organizational value of their science and practice (a concern of HR more generally). Furthermore. are findings based on civil service organizations generalizable to private sector organizations? There seem to exist two worlds in staffing. M. Journalof Management. & Maldegen. R. D. 1991. B.. A. 37: 31-46.. is a notable exception). 2000. we can give managers these tools if they would only believe in them. Every single organization in the world uses some form of staffing procedure. K. P. and effectiveness of staffing prac- tices across (not within) cultures (Ryan et al. W... Multi-level staffing research and models were offered as one mechanism for conveying business unit value. But the research literature some- times has difficulty providing answers that show business value. M. Finally. 59: 157-187. Research on traditional recruitment and selection practices is important and should continue. D. McNelly. T. F. Human Resource Management. Personnel Psychology. Woehr. A. and cultural changes make organizational success and survival dependent on staffing. one is the civil sector where the usual staffing methods (job analysis) are applied almost without question. Part 2. but many organizational decision makers and even organizational scholars fail to recognize staffing's value. & McKay. On becoming a strategic partner: The role of human resources in gaining com- petitive advantage.892 Journal of Management / December 2006 Fourth. The McKinsey Quarterly. P. there is little in terms of theory to help guide such research. Axelrod. Yet competition and technology have made the world flat for even the smallest organizations. E. T. Avery. 56: 125-153. but there is no guarantee they use them optimally or even appropriately. but this by itself seems unlikely to increase strategic value. Staffing at the Dawn of the 21st Century Staffing sits in a curious position at the dawn of the 21 st century: Economic. Oftentimes. 2: 9-12. Barney. P... L. use. L... This is unfortunate but is likely to continue unless research-practice gaps are closed to show the business unit strate- gic value of staffing. R. Jr.. we know very little about the implementation. & Wright. Convergent and discriminant validity of assessment center dimen- sions: A conceptual and empirical reexamination of the assessment center construct-related validity paradox. W.. 2006. W. Personnel Psychology. J. A meta-analysis of the criterion-related validity of assessment center dimensions. H. The other is the private sector world where competition and pace of change substantially challenge the best practices of staffing. References Arthur. Arthur. societal. War for talent. 44: 1-26.. Barrick. & Edens. E. Handfield-Jones. This is another missed opportunity.. 1999. & Mount.

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