I integrate stereotype-fit and social interdependence theories to propose a model explaining how and why decision makers discriminate in personnel decisions. I suggest that decision makers draw on stereotypes about members of different social groups to infer candidates’ task-related ability. Decision makers perceive candidates having a greater ability required for the task as less (more) instrumental to their personal outcomes if they expect to compete (cooperate) with the candidate, which in turn shape the pattern of discrimination. The current research demonstrates the importance of considering the largely overlooked role of interdependent relationships within the organization for understanding discrimination in organizations.
Workplace discrimination, differential treatment based on individuals’ social group memberships, continues to be a major problem in organizations. Discrimination can lead to suboptimal organizational decisions such as the hiring of less qualified candidates and poorer performance. Workplace discrimination also undermines broader societal goals of social justice and the equality of opportunity.