Thinking Locally or Globally? – Trying to Overcome the Tragedy of Personnel Evaluation with Stories or Selective Information Presentation

AbstractSocial dilemmas conceptually suggest distinguishing direct individual and group-level effects (also involving indirect effects on others). Furthermore, the success of organizations appears to rely on identifying not only individual excellence but positive impact on others as well. In ‘Two-Level Personnel Evaluation Tasks’ (T-PETs) participants as human resource managers evaluate employees when individual and group contributions are dissociated. Von Sydow, Braus, & Hahn (2018) have suggested a potential ‘Tragedy of Personnel Evaluation’: A group-serving employee with the smallest individual contribution but by far the greatest positive effect on the group’s overall earnings was often rated the most negatively. Here we investigate, in two experiments with conflicting information, whether emphasizing the group can avert the ‘tragic’ outcome. Our results suggest that the tragedy is not as complete as suggested, and that contextual information can mitigate the tragedy. Nonetheless, the results also corroborate the stability of underestimating the impact of team players.

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