Department of Management

Personnel Mobility and Organizational Performance: The Effects of Specialist vs. Generalist Experience and Organizational Work Structure

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Standard

Personnel Mobility and Organizational Performance : The Effects of Specialist vs. Generalist Experience and Organizational Work Structure. / Fahrenkopf, Erin; Guo, Jerry M; Argote, Linda.

In: Organization Science, Vol. 31, No. 6, 2020, p. 1601-1620.

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Harvard

APA

CBE

MLA

Vancouver

Author

Bibtex

@article{bcbd34e2ecfc40d39fb6c3052e393144,
title = "Personnel Mobility and Organizational Performance: The Effects of Specialist vs. Generalist Experience and Organizational Work Structure",
abstract = "This study advances understanding of the conditions under which a new worker improves organizational performance. We argue that the extent to which new group members have experience working as specialists or generalists is a critical factor in explaining performance after the new member joins. We conceptualize specialists as those who concentrate on a particular component of an organization's task, whereas generalists perform all components of the task. As such, a specialist must coordinate with other group members to complete the group's task, which makes a specialist more interdependent with other members and in possession of more organization-specific knowledge than a generalist. We predict that (1) groups receiving specialist new members do not perform as well after the new member joins as compared with groups receiving generalist new members and (2) groups with new members whose work experience and recipient group structure are aligned (i.e., generalist movers into generalist groups and specialist movers into specialist groups) perform better than groups with new members whose experience and recipient group structure are not aligned. We test our hypotheses using a laboratory study in which we manipulate the extent to which new members and incumbent members of recipient groups work as specialists or generalists. Participants work as generalists or specialists in three-person groups and receive a new member who acquired experience as a specialist or generalist in another group. We find support for our hypotheses and provide evidence on mechanisms through which potential new members' backgrounds enable them to contribute significantly to their recipient groups. New members who acquire experience in a structure similar to that of their recipient organizations report that they experience greater fit with their new groups, which enables their recipient groups to perform better than groups where new members' experience and recipient group structure are not aligned. Additionally, our results suggest generalists may be more likely than specialists to transfer knowledge to their new groups.",
keywords = "COMPENSATION GENERALIST, COORDINATION, DIVISION-OF-LABOR, DYNAMICS, EXPLOITATION, EXPLORATION, KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER, division of work, employee mobility, group learning, group performance, routines, specialization, turnover",
author = "Erin Fahrenkopf and Guo, {Jerry M} and Linda Argote",
year = "2020",
doi = "10.1287/orsc.2020.1373",
language = "English",
volume = "31",
pages = "1601--1620",
journal = "Organization Science",
issn = "1047-7039",
publisher = "INFORMS",
number = "6",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Personnel Mobility and Organizational Performance

T2 - The Effects of Specialist vs. Generalist Experience and Organizational Work Structure

AU - Fahrenkopf, Erin

AU - Guo, Jerry M

AU - Argote, Linda

PY - 2020

Y1 - 2020

N2 - This study advances understanding of the conditions under which a new worker improves organizational performance. We argue that the extent to which new group members have experience working as specialists or generalists is a critical factor in explaining performance after the new member joins. We conceptualize specialists as those who concentrate on a particular component of an organization's task, whereas generalists perform all components of the task. As such, a specialist must coordinate with other group members to complete the group's task, which makes a specialist more interdependent with other members and in possession of more organization-specific knowledge than a generalist. We predict that (1) groups receiving specialist new members do not perform as well after the new member joins as compared with groups receiving generalist new members and (2) groups with new members whose work experience and recipient group structure are aligned (i.e., generalist movers into generalist groups and specialist movers into specialist groups) perform better than groups with new members whose experience and recipient group structure are not aligned. We test our hypotheses using a laboratory study in which we manipulate the extent to which new members and incumbent members of recipient groups work as specialists or generalists. Participants work as generalists or specialists in three-person groups and receive a new member who acquired experience as a specialist or generalist in another group. We find support for our hypotheses and provide evidence on mechanisms through which potential new members' backgrounds enable them to contribute significantly to their recipient groups. New members who acquire experience in a structure similar to that of their recipient organizations report that they experience greater fit with their new groups, which enables their recipient groups to perform better than groups where new members' experience and recipient group structure are not aligned. Additionally, our results suggest generalists may be more likely than specialists to transfer knowledge to their new groups.

AB - This study advances understanding of the conditions under which a new worker improves organizational performance. We argue that the extent to which new group members have experience working as specialists or generalists is a critical factor in explaining performance after the new member joins. We conceptualize specialists as those who concentrate on a particular component of an organization's task, whereas generalists perform all components of the task. As such, a specialist must coordinate with other group members to complete the group's task, which makes a specialist more interdependent with other members and in possession of more organization-specific knowledge than a generalist. We predict that (1) groups receiving specialist new members do not perform as well after the new member joins as compared with groups receiving generalist new members and (2) groups with new members whose work experience and recipient group structure are aligned (i.e., generalist movers into generalist groups and specialist movers into specialist groups) perform better than groups with new members whose experience and recipient group structure are not aligned. We test our hypotheses using a laboratory study in which we manipulate the extent to which new members and incumbent members of recipient groups work as specialists or generalists. Participants work as generalists or specialists in three-person groups and receive a new member who acquired experience as a specialist or generalist in another group. We find support for our hypotheses and provide evidence on mechanisms through which potential new members' backgrounds enable them to contribute significantly to their recipient groups. New members who acquire experience in a structure similar to that of their recipient organizations report that they experience greater fit with their new groups, which enables their recipient groups to perform better than groups where new members' experience and recipient group structure are not aligned. Additionally, our results suggest generalists may be more likely than specialists to transfer knowledge to their new groups.

KW - COMPENSATION GENERALIST

KW - COORDINATION

KW - DIVISION-OF-LABOR

KW - DYNAMICS

KW - EXPLOITATION

KW - EXPLORATION

KW - KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER

KW - division of work

KW - employee mobility

KW - group learning

KW - group performance

KW - routines

KW - specialization

KW - turnover

U2 - 10.1287/orsc.2020.1373

DO - 10.1287/orsc.2020.1373

M3 - Journal article

VL - 31

SP - 1601

EP - 1620

JO - Organization Science

JF - Organization Science

SN - 1047-7039

IS - 6

ER -