Brief Research Statement


 

My research is multi-disciplinary and multi-level and addresses the acquisition and deployment of talent in organizations and organizational research methods. For example, my research addresses corporate social responsibility, star performers and the distribution of performance, test bias and fairness, performance management and appraisal, selection and placement, training and development, workplace romance, and social power and influence. My research also addresses several methodological issues critical for talent management research including state-of-the-science, meta-analysis, multilevel research, ethics in research, bridging micro and macro domains, research design and measurement, and best-practice recommendations contributions (e.g., outliers, control variables, experimental vignette studies). Overall, my life agenda is to have an impact on the academic community, but also on society at large. In more practical terms, my research aims at addressing challenges such as the following:

 

·       How to lead individuals and teams simultaneously within the context of changes in the nature of work

·       How to lead a diverse and global workforce

·       How to enhance organizational performance through human capital development

·       How to lead sustainable and responsible organizations

·       How to create new and actionable knowledge by integrating micro and macro theories and research domains

·       How to create new and actionable knowledge by integrating qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches

 

I invite you to see a list of published journal articles and download pdf versions of these articles by visiting http://HermanAguinis.com/pubs.html. Also, a list of published books is available at http://HermanAguinis.com/Books.mht and pdf versions of book chapters are available at http://HermanAguinis.com/adpubs.html. Below are brief descriptions of recent projects addressing star performers and the distribution of individual performance, bias in personnel selection testing, corporate social responsibility, and methodological best practices and state-of-the-science.

Star Performers and the Distribution of Individual Performance

A long-held assumption in human resource management, organizational behavior, and industrial and organizational psychology is that individual performance follows a Gaussian (normal) distribution. In the first of several projects, which was published in Personnel Psychology [click here to download the article], we conducted five studies involving 198 samples including 632,599 researchers, entertainers, politicians, and amateur and professional athletes. Results were remarkably consistent across industries, types of jobs, types of performance measures, and time frames and indicated that individual performance is not normally distributed—instead, it follows a heavy-tailed distribution. Assuming normality of individual performance can lead to misspecified theories and misleading practices. Thus, these results have implications for all theories and applications that directly or indirectly address the performance of individual workers including performance measurement and management, utility analysis in preemployment testing and training and development, personnel selection, leadership, and the prediction of performance, among others. This article received very extensive media coverage, including an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition, which was broadcast to 900 stations with a total of about 20 million listeners (please click here to listen to this interview). Follow-up projects in this domain include a conceptual/theory article addressing star performers also published in Personnel Psychology (Aguinis & O’Boyle, 2014) and an empirical project also published in Personnel Psychology aimed at understanding the conditions under which the shape of the performance distribution is likely to change (Aguinis, O’Boyle, Gonzalez-Mulé, & Joo, 2016). More recent work in Management Research addresses the distribution of CEO performance and another article in Journal of Applied Psychology describes different types of non-normal distributions, how they are generated, and how to model them. For a user-friendly description of this line of work, please click here to watch an 8-minute TED talk based on our article on star performers in Organizational Dynamics.

Bias in Personnel Selection Testing

Few topics related to human resource management and organizational behavior research have attracted more attention than bias in personnel selection testing. In this article, published in Journal of Applied Psychology [click here to download the article], we developed a new analytic proof and conducted Monte Carlo simulations to assess the effects of methodological and statistical artifacts on the relative accuracy of intercept- and slope-based test bias assessment. The main simulation design included 3,185,000 unique combinations of a wide range of values for true intercept- and slope-based test bias, total sample size, proportion of minority group sample size to total sample size, predictor (i.e., preemployment test scores) and criterion (i.e., job performance) reliability, predictor range restriction, correlation between predictor scores and the dummy-coded grouping variable (e.g., ethnicity), and mean difference between predictor scores across groups. Results based on 15 billion 925 million individual samples of scores and more than 8 trillion 662 million individual scores raise questions about the established conclusion that test bias in preemployment testing is non-existent and, if it exists, it only occurs regarding intercept-based differences that favor minority group members. Because of the prominence of test fairness in the popular media, legislation, and litigation, our results point to the need to revive test bias research in preemployment testing. This article received extensive media coverage by USA Today, HR Magazine, The Economist, and many other outlets. Follow-up research published in Journal of Educational Psychology shows that the differential prediction of performance (GPA) based on SAT scores is not the same for men vs. women and African Americans vs. Whites.

Corporate Social Responsibility

In an article published in the Journal of Management [click here to download the article], we reviewed the corporate social responsibility (CSR) literature based on 588 journal articles and 102 books and book chapters. We offered a multilevel and multidisciplinary theoretical framework that synthesizes and integrates the literature at the institutional, organizational, and individual levels of analysis. The framework includes reactive and proactive predictors of CSR actions and policies and also outcomes of such actions and policies, which we classified as primarily affecting internal (i.e., internal outcomes) or external stakeholders (i.e., external outcomes). In addition, the framework includes variables that explain underlying mechanisms (i.e., relationship- and value-based mediator variables) of CSR-outcomes relationships and contingency effects (i.e., people-, place-, price-, and profile-based moderator variables) that explain conditions under which the relationship between CSR and its outcomes change. Our review revealed important knowledge gaps related to the adoption of different theoretical orientations by researchers studying CSR at different levels of analysis, the need to understand underlying mechanisms linking CSR with outcomes, the need for research at micro levels of analysis (i.e., individuals and teams), and the need for methodological approaches that will help address these substantive knowledge gaps. Accordingly, we offered a detailed research agenda for the future based on a multilevel perspective that aims to integrate diverse theoretical frameworks as well as understand underlying mechanisms and microfoundations of CSR (i.e., foundations based on individual action and interactions).

As an example of another project related to CSR, a manuscript published as a focal article and followed by commentaries in Industrial and Organizational Psychology [click here to download the article], proposes a new conceptualization to make sense of the vast and diverse body of work regarding CSR: (a) embedded CSR and (b) peripheral CSR. This distinction relies on psychological foundations originating primarily in organizational behavior, human resource management, and related fields and allows for a better understanding of when and why CSR is likely to lead to positive outcomes for employees, organizations, and society. Embedded CSR involves an organization’s core competencies and integrates CSR within a firm’s strategy, routines, and operations and therefore affects all employees. In contrast, peripheral CSR focuses on activities that are not integrated into an organization’s strategy, routines, and operations (e.g., philanthropy, volunteering). We used our conceptualization to explain the success of CSR initiatives at GE, IBM, and Intel, and to re-interpret the scholarly CSR literature in the fields of marketing, corporate governance and legal studies, and economics. We also described how our conceptualization can help bridge the much lamented micro-macro and science-practice gaps and helps guide future CSR research as well as organizational interventions.

More recent work in Journal of Management describes linkages between CSR and people’s desire to find meaningfulness through work.

Methodological Best Practices and State-of-the-Science

 

My research also addresses recommendations on methodological best practices. I believe these contributions are particularly timely and relevant given current concerns about the credibility and trustworthiness of management research. This work is very varied and has addressed how to select and report the use of control variables (e.g., Personnel Psychology, 2016); use meta-regression (e.g., Journal of Management, in press); define, identify, and handle outliers (e.g., Organizational Research Methods, 2013); design and conduct experimental vignettes studies (e.g., Organizational Research Methods, 2014); conduct multilevel modeling research (e.g., e.g., Journal of Management, 2013); and other topics.

 

Regarding state-of-the-science contributions, examples include a Journal of Applied Psychology article distilling effect size benchmarks based on about 150,000 correlations published over a 30-year period (2015); a Journal of Applied Psychology (2008) article documenting trends in the field from 1963 to 2007; a focal article in Industrial and Organizational Psychology addressing the movement of industrial and organizational psychologists to business schools (2014); and several articles on how to define and measure scholarly impact (e.g., Academy of Management Learning and Education, 2014; Academy of Management Perspectives, 2012; Industrial and Organizational Psychology, in press).

Thank you for your interest in my research. Again, feel free to see a list of published journal articles and download pdf versions of these articles by visiting http://HermanAguinis.com/pubs.html. Also, a list of published books is available at http://HermanAguinis.com/Books.mht and pdf versions of book chapters are available at http://HermanAguinis.com/adpubs.html

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