Mapping attitudes by performances: A case study of practical research techniques for employee selection


  • Alec Jones Organisational Effectiveness



The consultant group had undertaken strategic planning for an overseas specialist manufacturing plant. This involved three sub-phases within the training area:
  1. A complete analysis of all jobs, evaluation of all positions and regrading.
  2. The construction of level one induction training for technical specialists.
  3. The construction of training programs for all other levels.
During the discussion Senior managers highlighted a major point. The Company's selection of staff had, in the main, resulted in a high calibre of technical personnel. However, some personnel appeared to be more motivated in their work. It was these who gravitated towards the more complex control processes after two or three years of service.

An in-house examination of work practices had failed to reveal why some men achieved this status and others did not. Whilst some, operators could be classified as more motivated because they achieved controller status there was virtually no difference in actual work results, time taken, safety aspects, work based knowledge or general expertise. An examination of individuals had failed to show any particular characteristics in background or otherwise which could account for the end difference in positions held.

The training process from cadet operator to controller was costly and extended. It was not cost-effective to take on personnel and be unsure of their potential for at least two years. The Company required that all its technical operations personnel have the ability to develop into control managers. This allowed for natural work-force attrition rates, the training of newcomers and any unforeseen circumstances.

The Consultancy was asked to conduct an analysis to define the differences between the most motivated and the 'least motivated' operators. The profile produced was to be used for the hiring of new operators to maintain the overall excellence in personnel. It was also to be used to enhance the general workforce with a greater certainty that individuals would attain controller status.

There were two provisos:

  1. There had been a fairly impactive 'shakeout' as a result of the strategic planning. Matters were assuming a more desirable level. The sensitivity of the workforce had to be respected and no indication must he given of 'weeding' or 'singling out' individuals in any discriminatory manner. there was no intention to dismiss any worker as a result of the study. It was aimed solely at future employees.


  2. The union involved were to be appraised of the process. It must not be presented in any way that would alarm or give future cause for alarm. Consequently any process must be as limited as possible in its scope and yet give generalisable results.
The study was intended to be undertaken over a period of six months. However, due to workplace restraints it extended to sixteen months with a twelve month gap between the second and third stages. The effect could have been an essentially post hoc process with severe limitation on validity of results. However, this was avoided due to the unique characteristics of the workplace. This will be discussed at the end of the paper.


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How to Cite

Jones, A. (1990). Mapping attitudes by performances: A case study of practical research techniques for employee selection. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 6(2).