Employee Selection as a Control System
Executive Summary — One of the most powerful tools that an organization has to achieve its goals is the ability to hire employees with complementary values and capabilities. Reviewing personnel and lending data from a financial services organization undergoing a major decentralization process, Dennis Campbell offers the first direct empirical evidence establishing a link between employee selection and better alignment with organizational performance goals. Key concepts include:
- Employee selection as an important, but understudied, element of organizational control systems.
- The research provides the first direct empirical evidence of a link between employee selection and better management control outcomes.
- Employees chosen by the organization to function well in a decentralized environment were more likely to use decision-making authority in the granting and structuring of consumer loans than those who were not, and made less risky choices.
- The results provide evidence of longstanding models of management control, which posit that control on organizations can be obtained by managing "inputs" (e.g. employee selection) rather than "outputs" (e.g., explicit incentive contracting on financial performance).
Theories from the economics, management control, and organizational behavior literatures predict that when it is difficult to align incentives by contracting on output, aligning preferences via employee selection may provide a useful alternative. This study investigates this idea empirically using personnel and lending data from a financial services organization that implemented a highly decentralized business model. I exploit variation in this organization in whether or not employees are selected via channels that are likely to sort on the alignment of their preferences with organizational objectives. I find that employees selected through such channels are more likely to use decision-making authority in the granting and structuring of consumer loans than those who are not. Conditional on using decision-making authority, their decisions are also less risky ex post. These findings demonstrate employee selection as an important, but understudied, element of organizational control systems.