Purpose: Branched situational judgment tests (BSJTs) are an increasingly common employee selection method, yet there is no theory and very little empirical work explaining the designs and impacts of branching. To encourage additional research on BSJTs, and to provide practitioners with a common language to describe their current and future practices, we sought to develop a theory of BSTJs. Design/methodology/approach: Given the absence of theory on branching, we utilized a ground theory qualitative research design, conducting interviews with 25 BSJT practitioner subject matter experts. Findings: Our final theory consists of three components: (1) a taxonomy of BSJT branching features (contingency, parallelism, convergence, and looping) and options within those features (which vary), (2) a causal theoretical model describing impacts of branching in general on applicant reactions via proximal effects on face validity, and (3) a causal theoretical model describing impacts on applicant reactions among branching designs via proximal effects on consistency of administration and opportunity to perform. Originality/value: Our work provides the first theoretical foundation on which future confirmatory research in the BSJT domain can be built. It also gives both researchers and practitioners a common language for describing branching features and their options. Finally, it reveals BSJTs as the results of a complex set of interrelated design features, discouraging the oversimplified contrasting of “branching” vs “not branching.”.
- Grounded theory
- Qualitative research