Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

A Systematic Approach for Assessing the Currency ("Up-to-Dateness") of Job-Analytic Information

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

A Systematic Approach for Assessing the Currency ("Up-to-Dateness") of Job-Analytic Information

Article excerpt

It is almost a given that some jobs have the potential to change rapidly over time. Some of these changes are the result of new or developing technology. That is, technology appears to be changing at ever-increasing rates as new materials are being used in production settings, information is being generated and managed in new ways via computerization, and so forth. Clearly, these changes in technology influence applied psychology and human resource management systems. (1, 2) Jobs also may be changing given an increased emphasis on teamwork in organizations, (3) empowerment of employees, (4) or other managerial interventions such as quality management systems. (5)

These changes and interventions may subsequently influence the nature of the knowledges, skills or abilities involved at work. In all of these instances, researchers and human resource practitioners are often faced with concerns about the currency (or "up-to-dateness") of their existing job analyses.

However, there is a marked contrast between what is written about the dynamic nature of organizations and the literature addressing changes in job analysis. That is, there is a substantial body of literature suggesting that some jobs might be changing in significant ways, but little guidance on how to cope with such changes when examining or using job analyses.

It is also clear that job analysis plays a pivotal role when designing organizational interventions, such as selection systems. (6) In turn, test developers and users sometimes need to confirm that the underlying job analysis information is still current. For example, suppose a thorough job analysis took place several years ago, but a new selection system is being designed and there is an underlying concern that the job may have changed in some manner. The up-to-dateness (currency) of the job analysis information is important to organizations for at least two sets of reasons. First, organizations desire to maximize the effectiveness of their organizational interventions and processes. For example, valid selection systems that identify the best possible workers might incorporate an up-to-date understanding of the job, as such information could influence the content validity of the exam. A second, related reason that currency is important might occur if an organization incurs legal action against one or more of its human resources systems. For example, a job analysis is often used as a foundation for establishing the validity (and particularly content validity) of a personnel selection system. The nature of the job analysis could influence how convincingly the system is presented to regulatory agencies and defended in court. (7) We therefore also examined legally oriented documents for delineation of job analysis currency methods.

The purpose of this article is to review existing procedures and/or writings and then to present the development and implementation of a systematic protocol for assessing the "up-to-dateness" (currency) of job analysis information collected at some prior point in time. The protocol also provides a systematic way of identifying related changes, if any occurred. As will be noted later, there are clear variations to the method that might be viable in certain situations, but it is believed that this protocol provides an important first step in initiating common, systematic procedures and methods for checking on currency.

Prior Literature and Professional Standards

Prior literature. As noted, the literature on the currency of job analysis information is quite scant. Reviews of job analysis techniques typically do not even mention when, or how, to check for currency of job analytic information. (8, 9,10,11,12)

A few sources briefly mention job analysis currency issues. Brannick and Levine (13) indicate it is important to check that job analyses are not "stale." Morgeson and Campion (14) indicate that accuracy of job analyses may be difficult to assess if jobs change over time. …

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