Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Social influence and job choice decisions

an article by Mukta Kulkarni (Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, India) and Siddharth Nithyanand (Aspiring Minds Assessment Pvt. Ltd, Udyog Vihar, India) published in Employee Relations Volume 35 Issue 2 (2012)


Past research has largely portrayed job choice as a relatively rational and goal-directed behaviour where applicants make decisions contingent on organisational recruitment activities, or evaluations of job and organisational attributes. Research now informs us that job choice decisions may also be based on social comparisons and social influence. The purpose of this paper is to add to this body of knowledge by examining reasons why social influence is a key factor in job choice decisions of relatively young job seekers.
The study is based on in-depth interview data from graduating seniors at an elite business school in India.
Respondents did not see themselves as acting based on social influence as much as they perceived others around them to be. Reasons they noted for others’ socially influenced job choice decisions were: peers and seniors are seen as more accessible and trustworthy than organisations; organisations do not share all and/or objective data, driving job seekers to other sources; job seekers are clueless and hence follow a “smart” herd; and job seekers make decisions for social status signalling. Respondents pointed to socially influenced job choices as being rational behaviours under certain conditions.
Research limitations/implications
Generalisability of findings may be limited to young job seekers or to the Indian context, and the authors encourage replication. The authors also acknowledge the importance of individual difference variables in job choice decisions, a factor not considered in the present research.
Practical implications
Given that job seekers rally around others’ notion of an attractive job or an organisation, the paper outlines several implications for managerial practice.
This study, in a yet unexamined cultural context, points to the simultaneous and combined importance of normative and informational social determinants of job choice, bias blind spots in one’s own job choice perceptions and decisions, gender specific socialisation influences on job choices, and the notion of job fit in terms of fitment with expectations of important reference groups.

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