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    On the ignorance of group-level effects: the tragedy of personnel evaluation?

    von Sydow, M. and Braus, N. and Hahn, Ulrike (2019) On the ignorance of group-level effects: the tragedy of personnel evaluation? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 25 (3), pp. 491-515. ISSN 1076-898X.

    von Sydow, Braus & Hahn (2017) On the Ignorance of Group-Level Effects -108 with figures in place.pdf - Author's Accepted Manuscript

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    In social-dilemma situations (e.g., public-good games), people may pursue their local self- interests, thereby lowering the overall payoff of their group and, paradoxically, even their individual payoffs as a result. Likewise, in inner-individual dilemmas, even without conflict of interest between persons, people may pursue local goals at the expense of overall utility. Our experiments investigate such dissociations of individual and group-level effects in the context of personnel evaluation and selection. Participants were given the role of human resource managers selecting workers to optimize the overall payoff for the company. We investigated contexts where the individually best/worst ‘employees’ systematically caused the worst/best group performance. When workers in a team could substantially increase or decrease co-workers’ performance, most participants (albeit not all) tended to focus solely on individual performance without considering their overall contribution even when instructed to maximize group performance. This undue focus on individual information meant that employees who enhanced team performance the most often received the most negative evaluations. This may result in a ‘tragedy of personnel evaluation’ relevant to maladaptive incentive structures (personnel evaluation), job offers (personnel selection), and a substantially negative impact on organizational effectiveness. At the same time, the results suggest ways this problem may be overcome.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: ©American Psychological Association 201x. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at the DOI cited above.
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Cognition, Computation and Modelling, Centre for
    Depositing User: Ulrike Hahn
    Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2018 08:15
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:41


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