management selection


Heneman, H. H., Judge, T. A., Kammeyer-Mueller, J. (2011). Staffing Organizations (7th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. Chapter 10 (just the parts on assessment centers is ok).

Lievens, F., & Conway, J. M. (2001). Dimension and exercise variance in assessment center scores: A large-scale evaluation of mutitrait-multimethod studies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 1202-1222.

**Shannon, M.L. & Stark, C.P. (2003). The influence of physical appearance on personnel selection. Social Behavior and Personality, 31, 613-624.


Developing selection systems for complex jobs, such as management and executive positions, has presented special challenges to personnel psychologists. It has also lead to some of the most important innovations, difficult (and costly) court cases, and clearest insights into the complex nature of even the simplest selection decision. In the 70’s, for example, AT&T was put under a court order to promote more women into management positions. Ironically, they were asked to turn to a selection system which they had helped pioneer, called the assessment center, to do this.

Assessment centers (ACs) were developed during World War II by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to select intelligence operatives. They were designed to closely simulate critical situations that different spies were likely to experience under different circumstances. For example, spies behind enemy lines would need to withstand interrogations, spies in occupied territories and neutral nations would need to gather information from unsuspecting others, and analysts at home would need to be able to discover important intelligence in seemingly random scraps of information. (Think of the movie The Recruit, if you’ve seen it.) After putting all candidates for all positions through simulations of these experiences, the designers made an important discovery. They found that people who did well across all the simulations also performed better, regardless of where they were eventually stationed. It was this discovery, in part, which led to the use of multiple predictor batteries, and to the importance of regression models for selection in later years.

Back to AT&T: Their research arm had implemented an AC strictly to find out how managers develop, succeed and fail, and change over time. They had not used their AC for selection or promotion purposes. And they found that, though expensive to administer, it did not have adverse impact. So, guess what the judge told them to use for management selection and promotion? Since then, ACs have been developed in about 3,000 organizations worldwide, and have stimulated some of the most complex and valuable research in personnel psychology.


Please answer any three of the following questions. This assignment is worth 15 points – 5 points per question.

1.Why would you not want to select managers using the same selection methods as you would an entry level position (e.g., application form, resume only, etc.)? Conversely, why would you not use assessment centers for entry level positions?

2.Why might it be incorrect to say “Assessment centers have incremental validity in predicting performance and promotability beyond personality traits and cognitive ability”? (despite what H&J say…)

3.What are the differences between peer ratings, peer nominations, and peer rankings?

4.Describe three assessment center exercises. What constructs do these tap?

5.Identify and discuss two ethical issues that are relevant to assessment centers. Provide examples and rationale for why these issues you identify are potentially problematic.

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