The study purpose was to examine how leadership skills and abilities are
measured using the assessment center method. The specific question addressed was
whether the work simulation ratings made unique, incremental contributions to the
overall competency ratings over and above those from the testing. Archival data from a
consulting firm specializing in leadership assessment were used to address the research
questions. The population consisted of 200 manager and executives assessed for selection
or development over 3 years. For each of the 8 competencies, a preliminary backwards
stepwise multiple regression analysis was used to eliminate personality and motives
inventory scales that did not significantly contribute to the overall leadership competency
rating. Upon determining which variables should remain in the full analyses, eight
multiple regression analyses were conducted in which variables were introduced in two
blocks, the first of which contained the remaining cognitive ability testing and personality
and motives inventory scales, while the latter added work simulation ratings. Results
showed that work simulation exercises made significant contributions to assessors’
ratings of 7 of the 8 overall leadership competencies. Assessors considered half of the 8
competencies to be trait-based, and thus expected to draw more heavily on the personality
and motives inventory scales and cognitive ability test score when making judgments of these overall competency ratings. Similarly, assessors considered the other four
competencies to be skill-based, suggesting greater reliance on the performance-based
simulations when determining overall competency ratings. These assumptions were
upheld for 6 of the 8 competencies. Assessors expected to rely more on simulation data
for 2 of the competencies they considered to be skill-based, but in fact, ended up placing more weight on the personality and motives inventories and cognitive ability test results.
Implications for future research include conducting similar analyses of individual
assessors’ overall competency model determinations, doing predictive validity studies,
such as on-the-job performance studies that seek to determine the most predictive sources
of data, and studying how these findings could be applied to design simulations in such a
manner as to yield the most useful information to assessors when making their judgments
of overall leadership competencies.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2011. Major:Work and Human Resource Education. Advisor: James M. Brown. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 140 pages.
Jaeger, Kerri Shear.
The role of assessment center work simulation exercises in determining or influencing assessors’ judgments of leadership competencies..
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