The generalist bias

Long Wang, J. Keith Murnighan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-61
Number of pages15
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Volume120
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2013

Keywords

  • Decision bias
  • Generalists
  • Selection
  • Social comparisons
  • Specialists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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