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Last modified: Friday, January 29, 2010

IU Kelley School professor co-authors latest edition of seminal human resource management text

Jan. 29, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Kelley School of Business Professor of Management Herman Aguinis has co-authored the seventh edition of the classic human resource management text Applied Psychology in Human Resource Management, just published this month.

Herman Aguinis

Herman Aguinis

Print-Quality Photo

Professor Wayne Cascio of the University of Colorado Denver is the book's co-author.

In use since the 1970s, this text book is taught in undergraduate, masters and doctoral level personnel psychology and human resource management courses at universities around the world. Personnel psychology focuses on how to make organizations more effective and satisfying places to work. This text book has a strong focus on integrating psychological theory into practice by providing helpful tools and methods for students and practitioners.

"Firms should devote more attention to the development of their human resources," Aguinis argues. "Human capital is much more difficult to duplicate than advancements in technology, for example. You may be able to develop a similar technological innovation to your competitors, but you can't get the same top-performing employee. This book gives practical, research-based guidance for recruiting, selecting, deploying and retaining these top performers."

The book is so widely regarded as a classic text on human resource management that the sixth edition was recently cited by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her Ricci v. DeStefano dissent. The Ricci case was brought by a group of firefighters claiming to be victims of racial discrimination by the City of New Haven, Conn.

Seventeen white and one Hispanic firefighters had taken and passed a test required for consideration for management positions within the department. Upon discovering that few African-Americans had passed the test, the city invalidated the results due to concern that the test had a disparate impact on members of a protected minority.

"Applied Psychology in Human Resource Management"

In a 5-4 decision, the court held that the city discriminated against the complainants on the basis of their race. According to the court's decision, the City of New Haven had to have strong basis in evidence that it would be liable under the disparate impact statute, not just concern that it would be sued.

Justice Ginsburg cited Aguinis' research in the field of pre-employment testing, a subject on which he has authored numerous journal articles and book chapters. He also co-authored an amici brief in the Ricci case, in which he and his colleagues described the steps, from a scientific standpoint, that the city should have taken to determine whether the test was valid. They argued that the city did not follow due diligence in evaluating the validity of the test.

Other areas of Aguinis' research that figure prominently in the textbook include individual and team performance management, workplace romances, strategic workforce planning, corporate social responsibility, employee training and development and cross-cultural training and management.

"Firms put together committees, conduct research and then spend weeks deciding which new computers or copiers to purchase," Aguinis says. "But when it comes to hiring a new employee, managers often make gut-level decisions. Hiring a person is a much more expensive investment, with the potential for great cost if something goes wrong or great benefits when something goes right. It requires the kind of scientific approach that is described in great detail in the book."

Kelley School faculty have authored more than 200 textbooks.