Human Resource Management Decision Making Under the Spell of Favoritism: Conceptual Foundations and Empirical Evidence
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Favoritism and its more specific forms, such as nepotism or cronyism, are some of the least-studied issues within the leadership and human resource management (HRM) literature despite its practical relevance and its ethical and economic consequences. As the center of HRM, favoritism merits more than anecdotal coverage and references to other research streams or advice from HR consultants. Rather, systematic analyses are needed that are rooted in the HRM context. Our study helps to fill this need by conceptually defining decision problems and possible decision-making biases based on the cross-fertilization of ideas from complementary research streams. Using cross-sectoral survey data from 181 German managers with significant work experience, this study further provides empirical evidence for a systematic perception and judgment bias that lead to wrong allegations of favoritism. These “illusions of favoritism” may cause undesirable ethical and economic consequences. Beyond placing this important topic at the forefront of HRM research, the study highlights new directions for future research and provides important practical implications.
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