Psychological Testing in Personnel Selection

This research paper reviews the subject of psychological testing in personnel selection. The history of employment testing is traced from its beginnings in World War I to current day testing practices. Tests are described in a five category classification: intelligence, aptitude, performance, interest and personality tests. Next the various psychometric properties of tests are discussed: standardization of a test, objectivity, the different kinds of norms and reliability, and the different types of validity. The latter two topics are dealt with in some detail. The recent findings of validity generalization and its implications are considered. A section on decision theory and utility follows a discussion of classical test validation procedures. The advantages of tests are discussed in terms of test characteristics, recent research on productivity increases with valid testing programs, and alternative predictors. The following section covers the limitations of tests in three areas: the misuse of tests; test bias; and ethical concerns regarding privacy. In the concluding comments, it is noted that there are no better predictors than tests, but that tests are only one part of the personnel process. Also, the recent research findings reviewed here have yet to influence the real world of employment testing.

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Innovation at Work: The Working with Technology Survey, 1980-91

Canadian firms, like their competitors in other countries, face a number of competitive pressures arising from globalization, technological change, trade liberalization, fiscal restraint, and deregulation. Increasingly, it is being recognized that the productivity and quality improvements that are such a necessary part of competitiveness require a comprehensive approach to innovation, including not only technological change but also new ways of developing and deploying human resources within the organization. Human resource management, then, is being seen as a key to the performance of individual enterprises and to the overall competitiveness of national economies.

To address issues relating to the human resource impacts of technological change, the Economic Council of Canada conducted the Working with Technology Survey in 1985. That survey asked respondents about their experiences with computer-based technologies in the 1980-85 period, focusing particularly on the impacts of these technologies on the respondents’ internal labour markets. Establishments in all industries, with the exceptions of agriculture, construction, and the public sector, were surveyed and usable responses were received from 946 establishments.

The 1985 survey found that computer-based technological change was becoming widespread, but that it was on a relatively small scale at the establishment level, for the most part. Office technologies predominated and most cases were of stand-alone applications. Only limited impacts on human resources resulted from the introduction of the technologies and not a great deal of retraining of workers was reported. Organizational innovation had not spread very widely among survey respondents and neither workers nor unions were involved much in the process of implementing technological change.

Since then, the pressures on Canadian business to be competitive and, as a consequence, innovative have grown. This led the Economic Council of Canada to initiate a follow-up survey to the Working with Technology Survey (WWTS); when the Council closed in June 1992, sponsorship of the research was transferred to the Industrial Relations Centre at Queen’s University.

The WWTS follow-up survey collected data for the 1986-91 period from the respondents to the original survey, focusing again on their experiences with computer-based technological change, related adjustments in their internal labour markets, and organizational innovation. All respondents to the first survey that could be located were sent a mail questionnaire that was identical to the first survey, with a few small modifications. The result is a unique data-base that contains information, covering more than a decade, on the experiences of Canadian businesses and workers with technological and organizational innovation.

This summary report provides some of the first results of the analysis of the data contained in the Working with Technology Survey for the 224 respondents who responded to the questionnaires in both 1985 and 1991. Comparisons of establishments’ behaviour across the two time periods provides many valuable insights both into tech change and its impacts on workers, and into organizational change. More detailed survey results will be reported later in the course of the Human Resource Management Project.

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The Concept of Leisure

This paper was presented at the 1963 Spring Conference Programme of the Industrial Relations Centre, Queen’s University, at Kingston, Ontario.

The author refers to the speed and whirl of modern twentieth century living, about people feeling as if they never have time to do anything, and referring to the rat race in which they appear to be caught. This paper discusses the origins of the idea of leisure, the need and desire for leisure, while also suggesting that we rethink the whole notion of leisure. It also makes some suggestions about how we might think positively and usefully about the concept of leisure.

The author, A. R. C. Duncan, is Professor and Head of the Department of Philosophy, and Dean of Arts and Science at Queen’s University.

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