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This report summarizes the major findings of a 20-year program of research on the role and function of cognitive resources in organizational performance. Although there is no generally accepted definition of the term, leadership experience is one of the most important factors in selection and promotion decisions. In common usage, experience most often refers to time in service (TIS) at an organization, a job, or occupation (e.g., "How long have you been a manager here?"). Other definitions may also refer to diversity, richness, or relevance of previous jobs. However, all definitions imply skills, knowledge and behavior acquired in the course of time on the job rather than by formal training. This report is based on data from over 1,200 leaders and task groups in military and civilian organizations and laboratory settings. Most of the studies were part of a larger project on the utilization of "cognitive resources," that is, the leaders' intellectual abilities, experience, and job-relevant knowledge and skills. Three specific points should be kept in mind in reading this report: 1. Our research focuses on leadership experience, not individual experience (e.g., conducting an orchestra, not playing a violin). 2. "High" or "low" leadership experience, intelligence, expertise, etc., in this report is almost always based on a comparison within a particular sample. A platoon sergeant has high or low intelligence in comparison with other platoon sergeants, regardless of his or her score on a standardized intelligence test. 3. The "effective utilization" of a cognitive resource (e.g., experience) is inferred from the correlation between that resource and the performance of the leader or the group. Thus, a correlation of .80 between time in service (TIS) and performance implies that experience contributed strongly to performance; .00 implies that experience had no influence; and -.80 implies that experience was detrimental to performance.
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||Fred Edward Fiedler