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The generalist bias

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  • Wang, Long
  • Keith Murnighan, J.
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    Abstract

    This research introduces the generalist bias – a tendency to reward and select people with general skills when complementary, specialized skills are needed. Five studies investigated its effects. Study 1 confirmed the existence of the bias in a context-free experiment. Study 2 showed that the compensation of players in NBA teams was related to their two- rather than their three-point scoring. Study 3 showed that basketball fans favored all-around players even when three-point shooters would better complement a team’s needs. Study 4 showed that the generalist bias occurred in HR recruiting, and Study 5 showed that companies often recruited specialists to handle multiple, unrelated jobs. In addition, studies 3 and 4 also showed that joint evaluations (comparing specialists and generalists side-by-side) strengthened the generalist bias, whereas separate evaluations weakened it.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749597812001185
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

    Volume (Year): 120 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 47-61

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:120:y:2013:i:1:p:47-61

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/obhdp

    Related research

    Keywords: Specialists; Generalists; Decision bias; Selection; Social comparisons;

    References

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    1. Schelfhaudt, Kristin & Crittenden, Victoria L., 2005. "Specialist or generalist: Views from academia and industry," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 58(7), pages 946-954, July.
    2. Simonson, Itamar, 1989. " Choice Based on Reasons: The Case of Attraction and Compromise Effects," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 158-74, September.
    3. Amos Tversky & Itamar Simonson, 1993. "Context-Dependent Preferences," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(10), pages 1179-1189, October.
    4. V. V. Chari & Larry E. Jones, 1991. "A reconsideration of the problem of social cost: free riders and monopolists," Staff Report 142, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    5. Rosen, Sherwin, 1983. "Specialization and Human Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 43-49, January.
    6. Matthew Rabin, 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1281-1292, September.
    7. Main, Brian G M & O'Reilly, Charles A, III & Wade, James, 1993. "Top Executive Pay: Tournament or Teamwork?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(4), pages 606-28, October.
    8. Jon M. Shepard, 1970. "Functional specialization, alienation, and job satisfaction," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 23(2), pages 207-219, January.
    9. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1992. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1137-60, November.
    10. Kreps, David M, 1979. "A Representation Theorem for "Preference for Flexibility"," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(3), pages 565-77, May.
    11. Moreland, Richard L. & Myaskovsky, Larissa, 2000. "Exploring the Performance Benefits of Group Training: Transactive Memory or Improved Communication?," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 117-133, May.
    12. Diane L. Rulke & Joseph Galaskiewicz, 2000. "Distribution of Knowledge, Group Network Structure, and Group Performance," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(5), pages 612-625, May.
    13. George J. Stigler, 1951. "The Division of Labor is Limited by the Extent of the Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59, pages 185.
    14. Ghemawat, Pankaj & Ricart, Joan E., 1993. "Organizational tension between static and dynamic efficiency, The," IESE Research Papers D/255, IESE Business School.
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