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See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: Staffing in the 21st Century: New Challenges and Strategic Opportunities Article in Journal of Management · December 2006 DOI: 10.1177/0149206306293625 CITATIONS READS 303 18,038 1 author: Robert E. Ployhart University of South Carolina 125 PUBLICATIONS 8,868 CITATIONS SEE PROFILE Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: Microfoundations View project The Strategic Value of Selection Practices: Antecedents and Consequences of Firm-level Selection Practice Usage View project All content following this page was uploaded by Robert E. Ployhart on 09 July 2014. The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file. Journal of Management Staffing in the 21st Century: New Challenges and Strategic Opportunities Robert E. Ployhart Journal of Management 2006 32: 868 DOI: 10.1177/0149206306293625 The online version of this article can be found at: Published by: On behalf of: Southern Management Association Additional services and information for Journal of Management can be found at: Email Alerts: Subscriptions: Reprints: Permissions: Citations: Downloaded from at SAGE Publications on January 17, 2011 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 Modern 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 misunderstood by many organizational decision makers. Solving these challenges requires staffing scholars to expand their focus from individual-level recruitment and selection research to multilevel research demonstrating the business unit/organizational− level impact of staffing. Toward this end, this review provides a selective and critical analysis of staffing best practices covering literature from roughly 2000 to the present. Several research-practice gaps 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 † I thank Ivey MacKenzie for his comments and suggestions. *Corresponding author. Tel.: 803-777-5903; fax: 803-777-6782. E-mail address: Journal of Management, Vol. 32 No. 6, December 2006 868-897 DOI: 10.1177/0149206306293625 © 2006 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. 868 Downloaded from at SAGE Publications on January 17, 2011 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 organizations around the globe, it is critical that organizations and organizational scholars recognize 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, critically 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 organizational effectiveness, but also to recognize that staffing research needs to move beyond individual-level theories and methods to demonstrate this impact. Recruitment 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 markets give applicants considerable choice between employers, particularly for those in Downloaded from at SAGE Publications on January 17, 2011 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 organizations 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 competitive 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 organizational 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 perceptions of the recruitment process (e.g., fairness), followed by recruiter competencies and hiring expectancies. Interestingly, recruiter demographics 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 acceptance 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 perceptual 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 relationships could be, or can be, for the top predictors. Finally, demographics of both the applicant and recruiter seem to play a minor role, although individual differences may be more important. Downloaded from at SAGE Publications on January 17, 2011 Ployhart / Staffing Review 871 Person-Environment Fit Perceived person-environment fit (PE fit) is arguably the central construct in recruitment and has been an active area of research (see Ostroff & Judge, in press). The Chapman et al. (2005) meta-analysis, and another focused solely on fit (Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman, & Johnson, 2005), suggest multiple types of fit have broad implications for numerous criteria. Consequently, research has begun to examine the meaning, measurement, and antecedents of subjective fit. For example, Kristof-Brown, Jansen, and Colbert (2002) found support for a three-level conceptualization of fit: person-job, person-group, and person-organization. Participants not only made distinctions between these types of fit but also combined them in fairly complicated ways. Taking a different perspective, Cable and DeRue (2002) argued for three types of subjective fit perceptions. According to the authors, PO fit represents the congruence between the applicant’s values and the organization’s culture, person-job (PJ) fit represents the congruence between the applicant’s competencies and the competency demands of the job, and needs-supplies (NS) fit represents the congruence between the applicant’s needs and the rewards provided by the job. They found discriminant validity for the three types of fit, and each type showed some unique relationships with different criteria. As one might expect, PO fit related most strongly to organizational criteria, and NS fit related most strongly to job/career criteria. Interestingly, PJ fit was unrelated to any of the criteria. Cable and Edwards (2004) examined the similarities and differences between complementary fit (operationalized as psychological need fulfillment, or whether the work meets an individual’s needs) and supplementary fit (operationalized as value congruence, or whether an organization’s culture and values are similar to those of the individual). More important, they argued both complementary fit and supplementary fit can focus on the same dimensions (e.g., participation, autonomy), but they differ such that complementary fit emphasizes an amount on each dimension, whereas supplementary fit emphasizes the relative importance on each dimension. Although they found both types of fit were related, each independently predicted the same criteria (and of approximately equal magnitude). Thus, recent research on the structure and measurement of subjective fit perceptions finds there are many different types. Even though the various types are related to each other, they are not redundant because each type appears to provide unique prediction for specific criteria. Truly understanding the consequences of fit perceptions will require correctly identifying the appropriate form of fit for the particular criterion (e.g., organizational criteria predicted best by PO fit perceptions). On the other hand, if each type of fit predicts different outcomes, one can speculate that each also has different antecedents (as do complementary fit and supplementary fit). Employer Brand Image One clear finding in recent recruitment research is the importance of the employer’s image or reputation (Saks, 2005). Employer image has been examined by different researchers using different operationalizations (e.g., image, reputation, brand, symbolic attributes), but all converge around the finding that this image has important effects on recruitment outcomes. This Downloaded from at SAGE Publications on January 17, 2011 872 Journal of Management / December 2006 review examines all such research under the heading employer brand image (see Collins & Stevens, 2002). For example, Turban and Cable (2003) showed how the reputation of an organization, operationalized as the organization’s ranking in various popular business publications (e.g., Fortune, Business Week), had an effect on objective applicant pool characteristics. Firms with more positive reputations increased the number of applicants and influenced applicant behavior. On the downside, both low- and high-ability applicants were likely to apply to organizations with a favorable reputation, thus increasing recruiting costs. On the upside, having more applicants should allow the organization to make finer distinctions and be more selective of top talent. 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. Interestingly, they even found participants would accept a 7% smaller salary as a result of joining a firm with a highly favorable reputation. Collins and Stevens (2002) have borrowed from the marketing literature to consider the concept of brand equity. There are many similarities facing marketing and recruiting departments. For example, brand equity research suggests that organizations can create a marketing advantage by fostering recognition and favorable impressions of the organizations’ brand. More important, brand image allows people to differentiate the product from competitors’ products. When the image is positive, it creates positive attitudinal reactions to the organization and the product’s attributes. Collins and Stevens (2002) argued that in the early stages of recruitment, organizations can use publicity, sponsorship of universities and schools, word-of-mouth, and advertising to create a positive brand image. These practices are particularly important in the early stages because the applicants have little information about the firm. They found these practices (excluding sponsorship) influenced employer brand image, which in turn influenced applicant decisions. Using multiple practices produced a stronger effect. Collins and Han (2004) conducted a similar study but examined between-organization differences in early recruiting practices, employer advertising, and firm reputation. They found these practices and information positively influenced applicant quality and quantity, demonstrating recruiting practices and organizational information can have organizational-level consequences. Advertising was the most important determinant of multiple measures of quality and quantity. Lievens and Highhouse (2003) took the marketing perspective a step further and introduced the instrumental-symbolic framework to recruiting. Instrumental attributes tend to represent objective job and organizational attributes (e.g., pay, location), whereas symbolic attributes represent the subjective meanings and inferences that people ascribe to the job and organization. These symbolic attributes tend to be expressed in terms of trait or personality inferences. More important, they found symbolic attributes provided incremental explanation of organizational attractiveness beyond that provided by instrumental attributes. These symbolic attributes also provided a more useful source of differentiation between competitors. For example, jobs may be highly similar in terms of pay, benefits, and location, so the only way to differentiate two organizations is in terms of their symbolic attributes. Similarly, Slaughter, Zickar, Highhouse, and Mohr (2004) developed an individual measure of organizational personality and found individuals use organizational trait inferences to distinguish them from each other. These organizational trait inferences were also related to attraction. Downloaded from at SAGE Publications on January 17, 2011 Ployhart / Staffing Review 873 Overall, employer brand image offers another possibility of sustained competitive advantage because it is rare, difficult to imitate, valuable, and cannot be substituted (Turban & Cable, 2003). Fostering favorable employer brand image can be accomplished through advertising and similar practices (Collins & Stevens, 2002) and can influence both applicant and organizational-level recruiting outcomes (Collins & Han, 2004; Turban & Cable, 2003). Employer brand image offers a way for organizations to differentiate themselves among applicants, even when they cannot compete in terms of location or wages. Together, this research provides important insights into how organizations can use their reputation and climate to attract and retain applicants. It will be important to learn how symbolic attributes are similar/different to employer brand image, organizational culture, and organizational values. Applicant Reactions Research on applicant reactions is similar to recruitment but focuses specifically on how applicants perceive and react to personnel selection practices (e.g., interviews, tests). A review by Ryan and Ployhart (2000) identified two main streams of applicant reactions research. The first examines the perceptions and reactions that influence test-taker performance, giving special emphasis to understanding whether demographic differences in perceptions and …
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