A new article published in Research and Organizational Behavior by doctoral candidate Eliza Byington and Dr. Will Felps from the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, questions the universality of the relationship between IQ and job performance.

They point out that nearly all of the research substantiating the link between IQ and job performance has been done in the West, where IQ reflective test scores are tightly linked to performance enhancing resources. For example, in the United States, IQ reflective tests such as school achievement tests and university admissions exams, are often a critical factor in deciding who has access to the resources that enable a person to become a high performer.

Byington and Felps point out that different versions of what are essentially IQ tests are used to distribute these important resources throughout Western Europe and North America. As such, a Western applicant with a high IQ is more likely to have had the developmental experiences that will allow him or her to be a high performer on the job.

However, new studies in the Middle East and China are finding a substantially weaker, and in some cases, negative relationship between IQ scores and performance. These findings may indicate that it is the resources associated with high IQ in the West that are creating high performers.

In a globalised market for talent, managers and human resource professionals may want to educate themselves as to how resources are distributed in applicants’ home countries. For employers considering applicants with non-Western backgrounds, factors other than IQ may be more important for identifying the best employees.

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