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Article Summary

Subject : FCOB
Prediction of Multidimensional Criteria:
Distinguishing Task and Contextual Performance
By Keith Hattrup, Matthew S. O'Connell and Peter H. Wingate
The articles says that little efforts has been done to formulate and test models of
job performance compared to test the validity of different predictor of job
performance. The theories of job performance have been described as primitive and
little empirical evidence is accumulated to support any recent model of job
performance. Although there is a theoretical consensus that job performance is
multidimensional but there is no agreement about which specific dimensions is
relevant for most jobs. Borman and Motowidlo (1993,1997) proposed two dimension
of job performance- task and contextual performance. A few studies conducted in
military settings provided support for this distinction but the result of these studies
were somewhat inconsistent suggesting the need for further research. Therefore
present research was conducted to further test the theoretical distinction between
task and contextual performance in a sample of retail sales workers employed at a
large U.S. based retail establishment located in Mexico.
Research on the Prediction of Multiple Job Performance DimensionsCampbell et al (1993,1996) proposed eight dimension of job performance - jobspecific task proficiency, non-job-specific task proficiency, written and oral
communication, demonstrating effort, maintaining personal discipline, facilitating
team and peer performance, supervision/leadership, and management and
administration. Not all of the dimensions are relevant for all jobs.
In contrast, Bormon and Motowidlo (1993,1997) suggested only two dimension of
job performance-1) Task performance- includes behaviors that contribute either to
transforming raw materials into goods and services or to maintaining the
organization's technical core. Hence, these behaviors should be consistent with
Cambell et al's dimensions of job and non-job-specific proficiency, written and oral
communication, supervision/leadership, and management and administration.
2) Contextual Performance- represents behaviors that support organization's
climate and culture, not necessarily extra-role but often more affective in tone than
task performance. Bormon and Motowidlo (1993) described five categories of
contextual performance-(a) Volunteering for extra work (b) persisting with
enthusiasm (c) helping and cooperating with others (d) following rules and
procedures (e) endorsing, supporting and defending objectives.
This two dimensional distinction represents taxonomic model of criteria ( empirically
derived ) based on more broad constructs of performance compared to that of
Campbell et al's model.
If the above two dimensions are different from each other then they should be best
predicted by different predictors. Given the nature of above two performance, it is
expected that contextual performance should be predicted best by personality,

whereas task performance should be predicted better by individual differences in

cognitive ability. Although, Motowidlo et al (1997) suggests that there may be a
possibility of conscientiousness relates task performance through its effects on task
habits, including goal setting, and task motivation. Likewise cognitive abilities may
affect contextual performance through their effects on role perceptions and
interpersonal or contextual skill and knowledge. The suggested relationship can be
graphically shown as below-

Job performance dimension

strong relation expected

Cognitive ability

Task Performance


strong relation expected

This taxonomic model propose two broader performance (criteria) dimension- task
and contextual performance. For the validity of this distinction, empirical evidence is
necessary to support either a) A single predictor predicts differently to two different criteria dimensions.
b) two different predictor predicts separately to two different criteria dimension.
Unfortunately, available empirical research has provided mixed support for the
prediction suggested by the theory of task and contextual performance. The
existent empirical evidence are described belowResearch & Job dimension

1. U.S. Army's large sample Project A Study

Task Performance- (a) Core technical
(b) General Soldering
Contextual Performance- demonstrating
Personal discipline, and military bearing
2. Motowidlo and Van Scotter (1994) study
of military

ment ( r- correlation)
(r- correlation )





.11 to .22

.30 to .36

Task Performance
Contextual Performance
3. Motowidlo and Van Scotter ( 1996 )
Task Performance
Two measure of Contextual Performance
4. Study of accountants
Silverman (1989)
Technical/Task Performance



-.01 *
.15 *

Work Orientation

-.06 *
-.04 & -.01




Work orientation
Strong correlation*
Contextual Performance (Work ethic and Mild
Mild correlation*
* Empirical evidence failed to support the prediction offered by theory of task and
contextual performance
Summary and Hypothesis
Although existing research support for hypotheses of differential relations of
performance dimensions to differing individual difference variables, further research
is needed (The Reason for this Paper)(a) to assess the adequacy of the theory in actual organizations using varying
operationalizations of task and contextual performance.
(b) empirical research that supports this hypothesis largely conducted in military
setting which creates further doubts of its applicability in other organizational
Previous research identified the valid predictor of performance in sales and service
jobs1) Barrick and Mount's (1991) meta-analysis identified significant positive relations
between sales performance and personality constructs.
2) A meta-analysis by Churchill, Ford, Hartley, and Walker (1985) identified taskspecific skills and accurate role perceptions as predictor of performance among
sales workers.
3) Research by Leong, Busch, and John (1989) emphasized the role of cognitive
abilities as determinates of performance in sales jobs.
4) A Study by Barrick, Mount, and Strauss (1993) found that the effects of
conscientiousness on sales performance were partially mediated by autonomous
goal setting, whereas the effects of cognitive ability on sales performance were
more direct.
Thus, the available empirical evidence has clearly emphasized the role of both
cognitive abilities and conscientiousness in predicting sales performance, with the

effect of conscientiousness being partially mediated by autonomous goal setting.

This can be shown graphically asConscientiousness--------> Partially Mediated by Autonomous Goal
Setting---------> Sales Performance
Cognitive Ability
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------> Sales
In this study, an objective index of sales volume relative to sales goals for a 6
month period was used as the measure of task performance because(a) Although retail sales behavior is apparently more related with interpersonal
activities and motivational process (contextual performance) but this behavior is
more consistent with the definition of task performance (ie. transforming raw
material into goods & services and maintaining technical core)
(b) The suggestion of Motowidlo et al. (1997) and the finding of Barrick et al (1993)
propose that an objective index of sales volume was positively related to
conscientiousness, with the relation being partially mediated by self-set goals.
Therefore, objective sales volume with respect to sales goal is used as an objective
and pure measure of task performance to examine the independent effects of both
Contextual performance is related with "following rules and procedures" So
objective measure of absenteeism and tardiness should be treated as contextual
performance outcome. Supervisory rating of the sales and service workers on a 10item measure of Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) that served as a third
measure of contextual performance.
A strong form of hypothesis of predictor-criterion relations should give differences
in correlation of each predictor (ie. cognitive ability) with different criterion measure
(ie. objective sales volume). Whereas, A weaker form of hypothesis would suggests
that prediction equation for task and contextual performance would be different
from each other in terms of relative magnitude of standardized regression
coefficients for conscientiousness and cognitive ability. Since our sample size
(N=67) is less, it gives very little power to detect differences in zero-order
correlation so strong form of hypothesis may not get support in this study but result
of this analysis may contribute to future meta-analytic work. However, it is expected
that the weaker form of hypothesis would receive support in this study.
SampleParticipants in this study included 103 entry-level customer service and sales
representatives from several stores of a retail chain located in Mexico. Sales data
were available for 67 of the participants; hence, sample size differed between 67
and 103 for some of the analysis.

Instrumentsa) Cognitive abilityGeneral cognitive ability was measured with a 13-item paper and pencil test to
measure numerical and abstract reasoning ability of the participants.
b) ConscientiousnessThis study used a 23-item conscientiousness measure to assess both work
orientation and dependability, the two sub-dimensions commonly found in
measures of conscientiousness.
SalesThe ratio of each incumbent's actual sales to his or her monthly sales goal was used
as the index of sales performance, averaged over the 6 months period.
Absenteeism and TardinessAbsenteeism was measured by summing the total number of missed work days
( excluding sickness, medical leave, or maternity leave) for the 6-month period
comprising the study. Tardiness was measured by summing the total number of
days on which an incumbent arrived to the work site after his or her appointed time.
OCBCitizenship behavior was evaluated by incumbents' direct supervisors using a 10item scale to measure the altruism and generalized dimensions of OCB.
ResultsTable 1 (not shown here) provides descriptive statistics, reliabilities ( internal
reliability is written in parentheses), and intercorrelations of the variables in the
study. The findings area) As expected, Sales performance was better predicted by general cognitive ability
( r=.31, r square=9.6%) instead of conscientiousness (r=.03, r square < 1%)
although this difference is nonsignificant (t = 1.799, ns)
(b) Again as expected, Absenteeism was significantly predicted by
conscientiousness (r= -.24, r sq. = 5.8%), but not by general cognitive ability (r=
-.07, r sq. = .5%), although the difference in these correlations was nonsignificant
(t= 1.005, ns)
(c) Contrary to proposed hypotheses, tardiness was not significantly correlated with
either predictor measure ( r= -.02, .04% for Cognitive ability and r= -.03, .09% for
(d) OCB- Supervisory ratings of OCB were significantly correlated with the
conscientiousness (r= .23, r sq. = 5.29%) rather than with cognitive ability (r= .15, r
sq.= 2.25%) although the difference between these correlations was nonsignificant
(t = .505, ns)
Table 2 (not shown here) presents the result of multiple regression of performance
measures on cognitive ability and conscientiousness. The findings are(a) Cognitive ability, but not conscientiousness, incrementally predicts
sales performance.
(b) Conscientiousness, but not cognitive ability, incrementally predicts
absenteeism and supervisory rating of OCB.

(c) Neither cognitive ability nor conscientiousness showed any relation

with tardiness.
DISCUSSION1) These result provided support for our categorization of specific performance
measures (ie. sales performance, absenteeism, tardiness and OCB) into task and
contextual performance dimensions and offered additional support for the
theoretical distinctions between task and contextual performance that have been
described in the literature.
2) Tardiness, was not validly predicted by either of the predictor in this study. The
reason of this may be (a) pronounced nonnormality (positively skewed) of the
distribution of lateness behavior (b) some amount of tardiness may be forgiven by
allowing workers to stay late to complete an 8-hour shift. So further research needs
to be done to clarify the correct relationship.
3) Empirical results supported the categorization of absenteeism as a manifestation
of contextual performance rather than task performance. Moreover,
conscientiousness correlated significantly in this study with both an objective
measure of absenteeism and OCB, providing further support for the robustness of
the linkages between personality and contextual performance. Hence, this research
contributes to an emerging body of research designed to describe the taxonomic
structure of job performance. Proposed Taxonomic (Empirically derived) Structure of
Job PerformanceJob Performance
Cons.- Conscientiousness
Task Performance



Sales Performance
Org. Citizenship
Incrementally Predicted by(Cognitive Ability)
4) Determinant of Supervisors' Evaluation of Performance- OCB ratings in this study
appeared to be influenced by both absenteeism (r = -.42 ) and tardiness (r = -.30).
Research is clearly needed to further examine how performance-relevant
information is used by raters when evaluating job performance, particularly how
various cues contribute to supervisor ratings of overall task versus contextual
5) As Hattrup, Rock, and Scalia (1997) described, results like those presented in this
research may also lead to important practical implications in the use of predictor
measures in personnel selection. Hattrup et al (1997) demonstrated that,
organizations that place varying weight on task versus contextual performance

dimensions may create more or less adverse impact against protected groups
during the hiring process because Cognitive ability tends to show substantial mean
differences across race groups, whereas conscientiousness does not (e.g. Sackett &
Wilk, 1994).