Recruitment Portfolio Games

Recruitment Portfolio Games

James Grayson (Georgia Regents University, USA), LeeAnn Kung (Auburn University, USA) and William F. Lawless (Paine College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch517

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In past research, we have concluded that organizations work best when they enforce cooperation in the performance of an organization’s mission (Stevens and Campion, 1999), but this cooperation if successful would make an organization less adaptable to future change (Lawless et al., 2010b). As part of a tradeoff, the managers of an organization might be able to become more adaptable by recruiting different mixes of talented individuals. In that situation, we predict that an organization’s management is trading off their organization’s present stability for future adaptability (Lawless et al., 2010a; Schneider and Northcraft, 1999).

But managers seldom work as planned. Per Mintzberg (1990), “If you ask managers what they do, they will most likely tell you that they plan, organize, coordinate, and control. Then watch what they do. Don’t be surprised if you can’t relate what you see to these words.” Similarly, Bloom and his colleagues (2007) found a negligible relationship between what managers believe about their business and what actually happens to it.

We try in our study of recruitment for an organization to present an element of a new “smart” or serious game that improves rationally on recruitment. The basic idea is for an organization to avoid its inability to adapt by constructing a “portfolio” of skilled employees with little in common. For example, if an organization of two individuals needs one carpenter and one ditch digger, it does not help the organization to hire two carpenters and then retrain the second one to dig ditches. One reason given for hiring two similar individuals is cultural, in that organizations might have a history of recruiting individuals with common backgrounds in order to reduce intra-organizational conflict (Zetland, 2010).

It might be more useful to think of the skills an organization needs as nearly “orthogonal.” That is, we want each individual to have some understanding of the other's skill set (or else coordination might be more difficult), but we don't want too much of an overlap (think of a Venn diagram where the overlap in skills can be modeled with Bayes theorem). If in designing a printed circuit board that goes into an application that will experience “stress,” an organization would want an electrical engineer and a mechanical engineer. Having two of either would not be helpful for this problem, but having specialized engineers that they do not share a common vocabulary and engineering understanding would make the project very difficult, but conflict in teams and organizations actually improves an organization’s performance (Hackman, 2011).

In organizations we are writing about, the complementary skill sets are likely to be social skills (positively correlated, and with significant overlap in the Venn diagram), and not so much the educational and professional skills (negatively correlated, or with little overlap in the Venn diagram). These soft skills are the mixture of perspectives, experiences, backgrounds, ways of examining issues, ways of problem solving, etc., so that we create that portfolio of “complementary” skills.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Game Theory: The study of decisions, often between two entities (e.g., individuals, firms, militaries, nations).

Monte Carlo Simulation (MCS): Consider an algorithm, say for recruitment; feed random samples of potential subjects into it to determine its variability. MCS predicts outcomes of worst and best cases plus those in between ( Metropolis & Ulam, 1949 ). It is a parametric model ( y = f(x 1 , x 2 , … x n ) , with variables (x 1 , x 2 , … x n ) ) unlike ordinary equations because it accounts for changes in the variables. It produces lots of results with random numbers for variable inputs. This allows MCS to show distributions that might indicate risk. With this iterative technique to determine statistical properties, graphs of probability distributions can be made, interdependent relationships can be analyzed, and multiple effects of the changes in variables can be simulated.

Portfolio: A collection of objects into a group; for an investment, this amounts to the stocks owned by an individual or organization.

Organizations: A social entity that may be a group of teams, a football enterprise, a business firm, a university, or a church.

Bayes Theorem: The statistical result of the rational manipulation of conditional probabilities for beliefs adjusted for the evidence as it accumulates.

Venn Diagram: The diagram of a set lists the relations between a collection in the set, such as overlapping circles.

Recruitment: At a local level, say for a work position, this activity amounts to attracting and choosing the most qualified new recruit for the position.

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