Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

The Ethical Imperative to Provide Recruits Realistic Job Previews

Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

The Ethical Imperative to Provide Recruits Realistic Job Previews

Article excerpt

Substantial research examining the efficacy of Realistic Job Previews (RJPs) has been conducted in the past decade (Wanous, 1989). Nearly all of this research has focused on the effects of RJPs on one or more desirable organizational outcomes, such as some measure of job acceptance, job persistence, or job satisfaction. Concern has been expressed that the reported results of RJP interventions have been, at best, equivocal (Milkovich and Boudreau, 1994). Nearly as many RJP studies have been conducted that found no relationship between realistic job information and reduced turnover rates as the number of studies which found a significant reduction (e. g., Premack and Wanous, 1985; Taylor, 1994; Wanous and Colella, 1989). Results have been less than overwhelming even in those situations in which statistically significant relationships were demonstrated.

As a result of these mixed findings, considerable effort is now being directed toward uncovering the theoretical processes explaining the role of RJPs in influencing these positive organizational outcomes (Fedor et al., In Press). An inference can reasonably be drawn from this RJP literature that, absent positive organizational utility, an RJP cannot be seriously proposed as an appropriate recruiting or socialization tool.

This article explores the possibility that the provision of realistic pre-employment and post-employment job information is ethically required, absent any positive, or even in the face of negative, returns to the organization. In fact, one of the suggested explanations for RJP's influence on the reduction of turnover implies an ethical underpinning -- employer honesty (Meglino et al., 1988; Suszko and Breaugh, 1986). The frequent incidence of positive organizational utility may merely be a fortuitous benefit on an ethically mandatory practice. Efforts directed toward isolating the most efficient RJP contents, methods and media, while not without practical importance, do nothing to establish or enhance an organizational imperative to provide recruits and new employees with accurate job information.

RJPs are designed to provide "realistic" job information. This realistic information is sometimes thought to include only the negative aspects of a job -- that information which is thought to be more likely to be withheld from the recruit An RJP, however, provides positive and neutral information, as wen. It is, of course, the provision of negative information that sets RJPs off from what might be characterized as the "traditional" recruiting situation. Theoretically, at least, where the organization and the recruit have unlimited time and financial resources, the RJP provides all of the information necessary to provide the recruit with a complete picture of the job and the organization. Furthermore, what is or isn't a negative job aspect is frequently determined within the sole purview of the recruit (Meglino et al., 1993). It is difficult for the recruiting organization to recognize which job/organization characteristics may have important consequences for the prospective employee. For purposes of this article, the RJP is considered to truthfully provide all relevant positive, neutral, and negative job information, despite the impracticality, of such a requirement. The totality of this information is what we characterize in this article as "accurate" information.

The importance and ethics of providing employment recruits with accurate job information was made abundantly evident during the United States' war with Iraq. The truthfulness of the recruiting information the U.S. military services dispensed to attract men and women to active and reserve duty was questioned by many military personnel. In particular, the call of many Reserve and National Guard personnel to active duty in a combat zone generated reactions among many of these individuals, ranging from surprise and shock to outrage. Of course, the body of knowledge common to all potential employees (in this case, the general citizenry's awareness of military affairs and reserve status in time of war) may be an input into consideration of the ethical adequacy of recruiting information. …

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