Business School Topics
Can a personality test accurately predict your on-the-job behaviour? What happens to your co-workers when you come in to the office sick? And how can we encourage employees to share their knowledge?
Personality tests are widely used by employers and yet often faked by job applicants, explained Dr Patrick Dunlop. When being tested by prospective employers, most people immediately become more conscientious, agreeable and emotionally stable.
So how do you spot a fake personality test?
Traditionally, employers have relied on questions testing "unlikely virtues," excluding applicants who claim they have never lied or stolen.
Yet, argues Dr Dunlop, this excludes genuinely virtuous people. Instead, he is developing an alternative method of detecting lies, based on overclaiming knowledge. This method excludes applicants who claim to be familiar with non-existent systems and theories based on job-relevant items such as scientific or computing knowledge.
If you claim to be familiar with ‘randomised digital arrays' - which don't exist anywhere - then you probably won't be getting the job!
Meanwhile, Dr Alex Luksyte showed that turning up to work when you are sick could have unlikely effects on your co-workers.
While a sick co-worker can cause employees to become less engaged and even counterproductive or deviant, this only happens when the sick employee is of the same sex and/or race, Dr Luksyte's experimental and field studies found.
The reason, she suggests, is that most people feel they are more likely to catch an inflection or illness from someone who is of a similar demographic to themselves. This is because we tend to identify more with similar than dissimilar others, which leads to more frequent and close interaction with the former than the latter. This in turn leads to greater actual opportunity to contract an illness from present yet sick co-workers of the same sex and/or race.
Every organisation relies on knowledge sharing. Yet, workers often refuse to share their knowledge for a variety of reasons - from using their knowledge as power, through to having a lack of time or motivation to share their expertise.
Dr Amy Tian examined the relations between employee perceptions of their organisation's human resource management system, employees' intrinsic motivations for (such as passion, learning, and sense of belonging) and extrinsic motivations (including rewards for sharing knowledge and punishments for withholding knowledge), and knowledge sharing behaviour.
After conducting a survey of workers across 439 employees from a number of knowledge intensive sectors (e.g., information technology, finance, engineering), Dr Tian found that while perceptions of high performing human resource management system increase employee's intrinsic and extrinsic motivation at work, extrinsic motivation didn't affect levels of knowledge sharing. However, intrinsic motivation did - suggesting that organisations may need to reassess the ways in which they encourage knowledge sharing.
Other topics presented by Organisational Behaviour researchers included encouraging safe work practices, the impact of demographic diversity in the workplace, impact of communication on submarine design, traits of good and bad leadership, encouraging wise proactive behaviour, and ensuring that corporate training is effective.
The session was moderated by Winthrop Professor Sharon Parker. Presenters also included Winthrop Professor Mark Griffin, Professor Kerrie Unsworth, Dr Zhijun Chen, Jenny Liao and Dr Lena Wang.
The Organisational Behaviour presentation was held on 5 November 2014.