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In today’s multicultural work environment, a better understanding of how bias affects hiring and promotion decisions, and what can be done to reduce its effects, is a major concern for hospitality industry human resource professionals and academics. Past research on racial bias and social identity theory shows contradictory effects; we propose that by examining additional boundary conditions we can clarify the “same-race” bias effect in hiring and candidate evaluation. We propose that perceptions of competence regarding job applicants provided to HR managers, and their attitudes toward affirmative action programs, can help reduce bias in the hiring process. Using an experimental design, we investigated these effects in two samples involving business college students and practicing HR managers at a full-service national hotel chain. We found that job candidate competence and raters’ attitudes toward affirmative action reduced the same-race effect, with some important differences between the two samples. Affirmative action attitudes enhance same-race bias among African-American evaluators in both samples, the study shows, while information on candidate competence has the opposite effect in the student sample.


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