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RECRUITMENT POLICY VS. RECRUITMENT PROCESS: ESPOUSED THEORY AND THEORY-IN-USE ANNA M. STAFSUDD Department of Business Administration Lund University P.O. Box 7080 SE-220 07 Lund Sweden INTRODUCTION This paper argues that recruitment policy does not influence the recruitment process to a large extent, as it represents an espoused theory, which is used to explain and idealize behavior after it has occurred. Instead, it is argued that recruitment decision assumptions will guide the recruitment process, as they represent theories-in-use. These recruitment decisions, in the form of how internal employees’ firm-specific knowledge is valued, will affect whether managers are internally promoted or externally recruited. How an organization values such knowledge may be inferred from control systems, which is illustrated using the examples of socialization and bureaucratic control systems. These control systems have been chosen, as they represent opposite perspectives on the value of firm-specific knowledge and will, therefore, have opposite impacts on internal or external recruitment being more probable. ESPOUSED THEORY AND THEORY-IN-USE The framework of Argyris and Schön (1974) presents how espoused theory and theory-inaction relate to each other, as well as to other variables. As can be seen in figure 1, espoused theory and theory-in-use can be positioned against each other, resulting in either congruence or incongruence. Furthermore, the figure depicts the assumption that espoused theory is separated from action and only serves to explain and idealize it afterwards. Instead, it is theory-in-use, which influences action, as people act according to the requirements of the governing variables of their theories-in-use. Theories-in-use will also tend to influence how a person will perceive the surroundings, i.e. the behavioral world. This is a world created by human convention and continued by human choice, rather than being an inherent nature of reality. Concluding a feedback circle, the behavioral worlds will be used as validation for those same theories-in-use, by which the behavioral worlds have been created and tend, therefore, to further reinforce them. This framework thus, depicts one problem with having theories-in-use, in that they tend to be self-sealing. Theories-in-use shaping action and behavioral world, while still using action and behavioral world as reasons and validation tends to enforce a circular logic, where a feed-back loop is dependent on the prior assumptions. One example of such a problem is presented by Argyris and Schön (1974), where a teacher experiences a self-sealing problem of assuming that his students are stupid. In assuming that the students are stupid, the teacher acts as though they are in fact stupid. By clearly letting the students know that he thinks they are stupid, the teacher will ask such questions as elicit stupid answers from them, thus, enforcing stupid behavior on the part of the students. The teacher will then test his theories and as he himself enforces stupid behavior in the students, his theories will be reinforced. The longer the teacher and the students interact, the more firmly will the teacher become in his theory-in-use of them being stupid. Academy of Management Best Conference Paper 2003 HR: G1
-----------------------Figure 1 about here -----------------------Apart from the earlier discussed variables there are five more, with which espoused theory, theory-in-use, action and behavioral world can be analyzed and which represent possible dilemmas in or between the other variables. Internal consistency may be analyzed for each of the two variables of espoused theory and theory-in-use, as a description of how internally consistent the theories and the assumptions of the theories are. Congruence, on the other hand, represents a means for analyzing fit or consistency between espoused theory and theory-in-use. Espoused theory...
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