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Research In Review 2010

2010 Research [PPT summary of research and implications for The Performance Conference]


360 degree feedback: how many raters are needed for reliable ratings on the capacity to develop competences, with personal qualities as developmental goals?


Hensel, R., Meijers, F., van der Leeden, R. & Kessels, J. (2010). 360 degree feedback: how many raters are needed for reliable ratings on the capacity to develop competences, with personal qualities as developmental goals?. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21(15), 2813-2830.


360 degree feedback is a widely used technique in the area of strategic human resource management (SHRM) and strategic human resource development (SHRD). The reliability of 360 degree feedback on the capacity to develop personal qualities has been investigated. This study shows to what extent the number of raters is related to an increasing reliability and an enhancement of correlation between supervisor and peer ratings. Ten raters are needed to reach a satisfying reliability level of 0.7 for the rating of the capacity to develop personal qualities, while six raters are needed for a reliability level of 0.7 with regard to the rating of motivation to develop these qualities. The use of two or three peer raters, as is common in the daily HRM/HRD practice, results in low reliability levels and in low agreement between supervisor and peer ratings. These results imply that 360 degree feedback is more useful in a personal growth system than in an administrative system, where the outcomes of the feedback are considered to be objective representations of work behaviour. Further implications for the SHRM/SHRD practice, especially concerning the development of competences, with personal qualities as developmental goals, are discussed.


Managing employee performance in small organisations: challenges and opportunities.


Nankervis, A. (2010). Managing employee performance in small organisations: challenges and opportunities. International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management. Vol. 10, No.2 pp. 136 - 151


The management of employee performance is recognised as one of the most important elements of Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM). This paper reports on a qualitative research study of the application of performance theory and practice in a sample of small organisations in Melbourne, Australia. The findings suggest that the difficulties for small organisations in performance management application are of different kinds than larger ones and provide just as many challenges and opportunities, but are more heavily reliant on the interpersonal skills and competencies of their managers to achieve similar aims.


Failing To Learn? The Effects Of Failure And Success On Organizational Learning In The Global Orbital Launch Vehicle Industry


Madsen, P. M., & Desai, V. (2010). Failing To Learn? The Effects Of Failure And Success On Organizational Learning In The Global Orbital Launch Vehicle Industry. Academy of Management Journal, 53(3), 451-476.


It is unclear whether the common finding of improved organizational performance with increasing organizational experience is driven by learning from success, learning from failure, or some combination of the two. We disaggregate these types of experience and address their relative (and interactive) effects on organizational performance in the orbital launch vehicle industry. We find that organizations learn more effectively from failures than successes, that knowledge from failure depreciates more slowly than knowledge from success, and that prior stocks of experience and the magnitude of failure influence how effectively organizations can learn from various forms of experience.


The role of pre-training interventions in learning: A meta-analysis and integrative


Mesmer-Magnusa, J., Viswesvaran, C. (2010). The role of pre-training interventions in learning: A meta-analysis and integrative. Human Resource Management Review Volume 20, Issue 4, Pages 261-282


Learning is one of the main goals of any training program. Much research has focused on how learning may be enhanced through effective training design. We compiled the extant literature exploring the efficacy of five common pre-training interventions in promoting learning. Meta-analytic results (k = 159; total N = 13,684) reveal consistent positive effects for the role of such interventions in learning. Attentional advice and goal orientation (as compared with meta-cognitive strategies, advance organizers and preparatory information) yielded the most consistent learning gains. Results suggest intervention format, implementation, and match to learning outcome are important considerations. Recommendations are provided for interventions which are useful in promoting cognitive, skill-based, and affective learning gains.


Characteristics of managerial coaching


Gilley, A., Gilley, J. W. and Kouider, E. (2010), Characteristics of managerial coaching. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 23: 53–70.


Coaching has become ubiquitous in organizations. Despite its growth in popularity, the concept remains largely untested through empirical inquiry. This study examined the skills and behaviors associated with managerial coaching. Results indicate a link between specific managerial skills, behaviors, and coaching.


Setting meaningful criterion-reference cut scores as an effective professional development


Munyofu, P. (2010), Setting meaningful criterion-reference cut scores as an effective professional development. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 23: 91–105.     


The state of Pennsylvania, like many organizations interested in performance improvement, routinely engages in professional development activities. Educators in this hands-on activity engaged in setting meaningful criterion-referenced cut scores for career and technical education assessments using two methods. The main purposes of this study were to (a) assess if training differences had a differential impact on standard setting of the cut scores, (b) determine if there is a significant difference in cut scores between two groups of educators, and (c) examine how cut scores established by this analytical method might differ from holistic impressions cut scores. The results showed general agreement among the career and technical education judges on the cut scores established. These judgments were not influenced by the characteristics of career and technical education students. However, the judges' analytical cut scores were significantly lower than their corresponding holistic impressions cut scores.


Exploring Asynchronous Brainstorming in Large Groups: A Field Comparison of Serial and Parallel Subgroups.


de Vreede, G., Briggs, R., & Reiter-Palmon, R.. (2010). Exploring Asynchronous Brainstorming in Large Groups: A Field Comparison of Serial and Parallel Subgroups. Human Factors, 52(2), 189.


The aim of this study was to compare the results of two different modes of using multiple groups (instead of one large group) to identify problems and develop solutions. Many of the complex problems facing organizations today require the use of very large groups or collaborations of groups from multiple organizations. There are many logistical problems associated with the use of such large groups, including the ability to bring everyone together at the same time and location. A field study involved two different organizations and compared productivity and satisfaction of group. The approaches included (a) multiple small groups, each completing the entire process from start to end and combining the results at the end (parallel mode); and (b) multiple subgroups, each building on the work provided by previous subgroups (serial mode). Groups using the serial mode produced more elaborations compared with parallel groups, whereas parallel groups produced more unique ideas compared with serial groups. No significant differences were found related to satisfaction with process and outcomes between the two modes. Preferred mode depends on the type of task facing the group. Parallel groups are more suited for tasks for which a variety of new ideas are needed, whereas serial groups are best suited when elaboration and in-depth thinking on the solution are required. Results of this research can guide the development of facilitated sessions of large groups or "teams of teams."


The Breakdown of Coordinated Decision Making in Distributed Systems


Bearman, C., Paletz, S., Orasanu, J., & Thomas, M.. (2010). The Breakdown of Coordinated Decision Making in Distributed Systems. Human Factors, 52(2), 173.


This article aims to explore the nature and resolution of breakdowns in coordinated decision making in distributed safety-critical systems. In safety-critical domains, people with different roles and responsibilities often must work together to make coordinated decisions while geographically distributed. Although there is likely to be a large degree of overlap in the shared mental models of these people on the basis of procedures and experience, subtle differences may exist. Study 1 involves using Aviation Safety Reporting System reports to explore the ways in which coordinated decision making breaks down between pilots and air traffic controllers and the way in which the breakdowns are resolved. Study 2 replicates and extends those findings with the use of transcripts from the Apollo 13 National Aeronautics and Space Administration space mission. Across both studies, breakdowns were caused in part by different types of lower-level breakdowns (or disconnects), which are labeled as operational, informational, or evaluative. Evaluative disconnects were found to be significantly harder to resolve than other types of disconnects. Considering breakdowns according to the type of disconnect involved appears to capture useful information that should assist accident and incident investigators. The current trend in aviation of shifting responsibilities and providing increasingly more information to pilots may have a hidden cost of increasing evaluative disconnects. The proposed taxonomy facilitates the investigation of breakdowns in coordinated decision making and draws attention to the importance of considering subtle differences between participants' mental models when considering complex distributed systems.


Sales training: effects of spaced practice on training transfer.


Simone Kauffeld, & Nale Lehmann-Willenbrock. (2010). Sales training: effects of spaced practice on training transfer. Journal of European Industrial Training, 34(1), 23-37.


The benefits of spaced training over massed training practice are well established in the laboratory setting. In a field study design with sales trainings, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the effects of spaced compared with massed practice on transfer quantity and quality, sales competence, and key figures. Spaced and massed training are compared using behavioral and outcome criteria. A quasi-experimental follow-up research design with a sample of 64 bank employees (n=32 in each training group) is used. Spaced rather than massed training practice resulted in greater transfer quality, higher self-reports of sales competence, and improved key figures. Spaced training did not surpass massed training in terms of transfer quantity. The present study is the first to demonstrate positive effects of technical training on job involvement, and of coaching on job satisfaction. In sum, validity of several developmental interventions is highlighted. Organizations designing and implementing various developmental interventions should pay attention to the relative effectiveness of these interventions on various organizational-relevant outcome criteria. An innovative approach to imply spaced practice in real sales training is presented. The effects of spaced practice on training transfer are investigated in the field.


Augmenting Means Efficacy to Boost Performance: Two Field Experiments


Eden, D., Ganzach, Y., Flumin-Granat, R. and Zigman, T. (2010). Augmenting Means Efficacy to Boost Performance: Two Field Experiments. Journal of Management. vol. 36 no. 3 687-713


Internal and external sources of efficacy beliefs are distinguished. “Means efficacy,” a particular source of external efficacy, is defined as belief in the utility of the tools available for task performance. The authors tested the hypothesis that raising means efficacy boosts performance. In two field experiments, experimental participants were told they got a new computerized system proven to be the best of its kind; controls got the same system with no means-efficacy treatment. In both experiments, means efficacy among experimental participants increased, and they out-performed the controls. A broadened perspective on the efficacy—beliefs construct is elaborated, and practical applications are proposed.


Transfer of Training: A Meta-Analytic Review Journal of Management.


Blume, B., Ford, J., Baldwin, T., Huang, J. (2010). Transfer of Training: A Meta-Analytic Review Journal of Management. vol. 36 no. 4 1065-1105


Although transfer of learning was among the very first issues addressed by early psychologists, the extant literature remains characterized by inconsistent measurement of transfer and significant variability in findings. This article presents a meta-analysis of 89 empirical studies that explore the impact of predictive factors (e.g., trainee characteristics, work environment, training interventions) on the transfer of training to different tasks and contexts. We also examine moderator effects of the relationships between these predictors and transfer. Results confirmed positive relationships between transfer and predictors such as cognitive ability, conscientiousness, motivation, and a supportive work environment. Several moderators had significant effects on transfer relationships, including the nature of the training objectives. Specifically, most predictor variables examined (e.g., motivation, work environment) had stronger relationships to transfer when the focus of training was on open (e.g., leadership development) as opposed to closed (e.g., computer software) skills. Other moderators related to the measurement of transfer also influenced transfer relationships, including situations in which transfer outcomes were obtained by the same source in the same measurement context— which consistently inflated transfer relationships. Findings are discussed in terms of their relevance for future research and training practice.



Critical thinking and business process improvement.


Ayad, A. (2010). Critical thinking and business process improvement. The Journal of Management Development, 29(6), 556-564.


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to explore the dynamics of critical thinking (CT) in contrast with Six Sigma and the "5 Whys" approach that is used by many managers to conduct "Root cause analysis" in business process improvements. Design/methodology/approach - The research integrates principles of traditional literature review with a reflective inquiry of a practitioner. Findings - Six Sigma and its "5 Whys" methodology is insufficient in root cause analysis unless coupled with CT. The paper demonstrates that some extraordinary business successes were achieved by CT, while catastrophic failures were often the result of selective biases, rigid thinking, and/or tendencies to deal with steps of processes, isolated processes, and/or independent situations. Consequently, the paper identifies a new domain that can be added to training in Six Sigma and 5 Whys. Research limitations/implications - The study does not address specific ways to integrate CT into Six Sigma, 5 Whys, and/or root cause analysis in business process improvement initiatives. Future research is needed in this area. Originality/value - The paper explores a new perspective to convalescing Six Sigma and 5 Whys methods. It provides a specific example and suggestions to help practitioners avoid faulty conclusions, while conducting investigations to improve business processes. It also opens the door for encompassing aspects of CT in Six Sigma training. As such, it benefits both practitioners and academics.


Improving training impact through effective follow-up: techniques and their application


Martin, H. (2010). Improving training impact through effective follow-up: techniques and their application. The Journal of Management Development, 29(6), 520-534.


Purpose - This paper aims to describe a variety of cost-effective methods that employers can use to support training activities and promote the transfer of skills and knowledge to the workplace. These techniques work to positively impact the workplace environment through peer and supervisory support. Design/methodology/approach - The application of action plans, performance assessment, peer meetings, supervisory consultations, and technical support is illustrated in two case examples. Findings - Follow-up activities resulted in improved transfer and had positive quantitative and qualitative effects on operations and firm performance. Practical implications - Billions of dollars are spent annually by organisations on employee training and management development. It is important that managers implement procedures that encourage transfer of learning in order to achieve greater training impact. The techniques discussed have wide application and significant effects on trainee motivation and workplace environment that are critical to success. Originality/value - The paper provides an in-depth discussion of how to create peer support mechanisms that encourage training transfer. It also provides details on how organisations can engage managers in follow-up efforts.



The collaborative organization: How to make employee networks really work.


Cross, R., P. Gray, S. Cunningham, M. Showers and R. J. Thomas. (2010). The collaborative organization: How to make employee networks really work. MIT Sloan Management Review (Fall): 83-90.


The traditional methods for driving operational excellence in global organizations are not enough. The most effective organizations make smart use of employee networks to reduce costs, improve efficiency and spur innovation.