Utility Analysis

Utility analysis is now a widely used quantitative technique for assessing human resource projects. It can contribute significantly to assessments and choices on the use of human resources. Human resource planning, selection management, training, and turnover have all benefited from utility analysis.

What is Utility Analysis?

Utility analysis is a collection of techniques that includes a cost-benefit analysis and is intended to produce data that is important to a decision regarding the usefulness and practical worth of an assessment tool. Note that we used the term "collection of techniques" in this definition. This is true since a utility analysis is not a single technique employed for only one particular goal. Instead, utility analysis is a general term that refers to several potential methods, each having different input data requirements and producing different results. Some utility analyses are very complex, including complex mathematical models and intricate weighting schemes for the various variables being considered.

Other utility assessments are much simpler and easier to comprehend in terms of answers to relatively simple questions. If used to evaluate a test, utility analysis will assist in determining whether one test is better suited for a particular purpose than another test; whether one assessment tool is better suited for a particular purpose than another. When used to evaluate a training program or intervention, utility analysis can assist in determining whether: one training program is superior to another training program; one technique of intervention is preferable to another way of intervention; the addition or removal of elements to an existing training program improves the overall training program by making it more effective and efficient.

How is a Utility Analysis Conducted?

The kind of data that must be collected and the precise techniques employed for a utility analysis will depend on its particular goal. Here, we will quickly go over two fundamental methods for utility analysis.

Expectancy Data

Some utility analyses will not even need to do more than create an expectancy table from a scatterplot of test data. A test taker's likelihood of scoring within a range of scores on a criterion measure—a range that could be labelled as "passing," "acceptable," or "failing"—can be determined using an expectation table. An expectancy table, for instance, can give decision-makers crucial information about the usefulness of a novel and experimental personnel test in a corporate setting. An expectancy table might suggest, for instance, that the likelihood that a worker will be deemed successful increases in direct proportion to how well they perform on this new test.

In other words, the test is performing as it should, and the company can reasonably anticipate increased productivity if the new test is implemented permanently. Many utility-related decisions, especially those limited to queries about the reliability of an employment test and the selection ratio used, could benefit from additional expectancy data.

The Brogden-Cronbach-Gleser Formula

Most recent research on utility analysis is based on the traditional utility model created by Brogden. Brogden suggested a formula to convert a selection program's validity coefficient into a rough estimate of its monetary value. His formula was predicated on the idea that a predictor score and the performance's monetary value were linearly related. The cost of testing applicants was added to Brogden's model by Cronbach and Gleser in 1965. The consequent Brogden Cronbach Gleser (BCG) model, which illustrates the incremental utility or productivity gain of a predictor-based selection process over random selection when Ns applicants are hired, can be formulated as follows

Where N is the total number of applicants, SDY is the standard deviation of job performance in monetary units (Y), rXY is the correlation between the predictor (X) and Y, Xs is the mean predictor score for the selectees, and C is the average cost per applicant for carrying out the selection process.

Practical issues of Utility Analysis in Organization

When conducting utility analyses, several practical issues need to be considered. For instance, the accuracy of judgments based on testing can be impacted by problems with current base rates. Special attention must be paid to this issue when the base rates are excessively low or high because such a condition may render the test ineffective as a selection method. Assumptions regarding the candidate pool, the difficulty of the position, and the cut score in use are some more practical considerations to keep in mind. At the same time, we concentrate on the topic of personnel selection.

The pool of job applicants − A large applicant pool may signify a strong economy and a high demand for the position, but it might also mean that there will be more competition for available positions. This may make it harder for firms to identify qualified applicants and may raise the cost of recruiting and hiring initiatives. Conversely, a small applicant pool can signify that people are not interested in the position or that the economy could be more robust. However, it also makes it simpler for employers to locate competent candidates. The size and calibre of the applicant pool should be considered when performing a utility analysis since they may impact the possible costs and advantages of selecting a specific individual.

The complexity of the job − Generally, the same kinds of utility analysis techniques are used for positions with a wide range of complexity. For business positions ranging from assembly line worker to computer programmer, the same types of data are acquired, the same types of analytical tools may be used, and the same types of utility models may be triggered. However, the more complex the job, the more people's performance levels vary, as Hunter et al. (1990) demonstrated. It is debatable whether or not the same utility models apply to tasks of different complexity levels and whether or not the same utility analysis techniques are equally applicable.

The cut score in use − A cut-off value is frequently employed in utility analysis to distinguish between desirable outcomes. The issue with cut-off values is that they are arbitrary and might produce biased findings if not selected properly. Because of this, it is crucial to consider the cut-off value utilized in utility analysis and to ensure that it is founded on reasonable justification and pertinent criteria.


The utility of a selection program or organizational intervention can be evaluated using various models, but there needs to be more published data on how accurate utility analysis estimates are. In addition, Anderson and Muchinsky (1991) and Quartetti and Raju (1998) provided some Monte Carlo findings on the distribution of utility estimates. Alexander and Barrick (1987) proposed various approximations for standard errors for utility estimates. Despite the significance of these studies, additional study is still required to establish appropriate standard errors for various utility estimations. It may be challenging to take the widely used utility estimates seriously in the absence of information indicating their level of accuracy.

Updated on: 15-Feb-2023

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