Table of Contents

Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods on Human Resource Management

Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods on Human Resource Management

Innovative Techniques

Handbooks of Research Methods in Management series

Edited by Keith Townsend, Rebecca Loudoun and David Lewin

This Handbook explores the opportunities and challenges of new technologies for innovating data collection and data analysis in the context of human resource management. Written by some of the world’s leading researchers in their field, it comprehensively explores modern qualitative research methods from good project design, to innovations in data sources and data collection methods and, finally, to best-practice in data analysis.

Chapter 18: Deriving behavioural role descriptions from the perspectives of job-holders: an illustrative example

Richard Winter

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, research methods in business and management, research methods, qualitative research methods, research methods in business and management


Understanding the individual knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA) and key demands of a job has traditionally been seen as the cornerstone of the human resource (HR) function (Brannick et al., 2007). Implicit in job analysis and associated employee selection activities is the notion recruiters must gain accurate and realistic job information to assess the degree of congruence between an applicant’s KSA and the job requirements (Breaugh and Starke, 2000; Meglino et al., 2000). Armed with realistic job previews, recruiters are thought to be better equipped to hire applicants who match job classifications (person-job fit) and who are “just right” (person-organisation fit) for their organisations (Kristof-Brown, 2000; Sekiguchi, 2007). Achieving person-job (PJ) and person-organisation (PO) fit by way of realistic job previews has been associated with a range of positive HR outcomes, including intentions to accept a job offer, low attrition from the recruitment process and high job satisfaction (Carless, 2005; Meglino et al., 2000). To achieve PJ and PO fit, recruiters have traditionally taken the attribute approach of considering jobs in terms of which KSA of individuals, or attributes of the job itself, fit recruiters’ PJ and PO fit perceptions (Kristof-Brown, 2000). By classifying jobs in terms of the qualifications an individual needs to possess in order to fulfil a particular open position (Huffcutt and Youngcourt, 2007), or by specifying the personality characteristics and social skills associated with selecting individuals in team-based settings (Morgeson et al., 2005), the attribute approach provides a solid foundation by which recruiters can justify PJ and PO hiring decisions. However, in the process of standardising jobs across HR levels for employee classification and selection purposes (Campion et al., 1997), an attribute approach may disregard the important performance role that “employees play in actively shaping both the tasks and social relationships that compose a job” (Wrzesniewski and Dutton, 2001, p. 179). In essence, an attribute approach to job analysis may decouple the job from the broader social context that shapes relationships between individuals or jobs.

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