Reactions to Selection Methods: An International Comparison

Article excerpt

This paper reviews the nature of applicant reactions to recruitment and selection methods from the standpoint of perceived procedural fairness of the selection methods used. Following the research of Steiner and Gilliland (1996), selection methods are analyzed for applicant perceptions of fairness using samples from the United States, Morocco, and Ireland. Specific results indicate that country differences exist in the perceived fairness of selection methods. Results also indicate a country by gender interaction. Discussion focuses on the nature of fairness perceptions in cross-cultural contexts.

In recent decades, scholarship in both human resource management (HRM) and organizational behavior (OB) has increasingly considered the issues of fairness of organizational policies and practices (see Folger & Greenberg, 1985, or Lind & Tyler, 1988, for early reviews). Most typically, the term procedural justice or procedural fairness has been used to describe the literature that has emerged surrounding these issues.

While these issues have broad implications for managerial and organizational practices, we focus here on a specific line of questioning: to what extent do people from differing cultural and national backgrounds hold differential views on the nature of fair and just selection systems in organizations? This question is not merely academic, as such practices have the potential to impact job candidates' perceptions of potential employers, and these perceptions can in turn impact the likelihood that candidates will accept positions in those organizations if they are offered.

In developing the literature relevant to the present study, we will outline two distinct lines of prior work. First, we will review those studies that provide a direct line of prior work on this question, and the studies we emphasize are those which build the methods and questionnaires we utilize here. Second, we will discuss the role of culture in organizations, and will use this theoretical material to develop the specific hypotheses we test in the present study.

Prior Research on Selection Fairness

Prior research on justice perceptions has focused on a variety of issues, such as the reactions to pay increase decisions (Folger & Konovsky, 1989), or the issues surrounding organizational citizenship behaviors (Niehoff & Moorman, 1993). In the context of the present paper, the focus will be the perceptions of the inherent fairness of selection methods used by HR managers in various organizations, and the paper will consider in part the role played by one's cultural or national background.

Concern over the perceived fairness of selection methods is of more than purely academic interest. In many cases an applicant for a position may know very little about the hiring organization, and in this case the impression made during the recruitment process is most of the information the potential recruit has. Rynes, Bretz, and Gerhart (1991) have shown that the perceptions of applicants can be critical, and can impact the likelihood that a job offer will in fact be accepted. While various issues affect this decision, including the characteristics of the job and organization or the salary offered, it is still the case that psycho-social issues have potential impacts on the ability of a firm to hire applicants (Fisher, Ilgen, & Hoyer, 1979; Maurer, Howe, & Lee, 1992; Rynes et al., 1991).

Our purpose in this paper is to investigate a specific source of potential impact in the employment process. In particular, we address the role of perceived fairness of selection methods, an area of investigation that has seen recent discussion in the literature on employee recruiting and staffing. Organizations using selection methods seen as fair and reasonable should be better able to gain acceptance of offers once those offers are made.

In addition to such practical issues, these findings also potentially add to our understanding of the fairness of HR practices in organizations, and can shed some light on the theoretical nature of fairness perceptions. …