The validation of the selection of male British army officers
This report places the Regular Commissions Board in its historical context, considers the previous validation research into the Regular Commissions Board and the War office Selection Boards, outlines the current officer selection and training procedures, and then describes the research methodology. The research analyzes the validity, utility and fairness of the Regular Commissions Board as a method for the selection of army officers. The research suggests that the Regular Commissions Board is moderately predictive of training and regimental performance, although little direct evidence is found that the Board is able to validly identify those who will be able to lead a platoon after training. It is estimated that the Regular Commissions Board is cost-effective though perhaps not necessarily cost-efficient. It is concluded that whilst there is some evidence of adverse impact against State educated schoolboys the Regular Commissions Board appears to be an acceptably fair selection mechanism. After a discussion of the findings, the conclusions and recommendations made to the Secretary of State for Defence are reported. These include the consideration of a mechanism which will provide the various parts of the army involved in the assessment and training of young officers with objective information on the qualities required and knowledge of success in identifying and developing such qualities; the introduction of a system of routinised validation; an investigation into the nature of the evidence available to Board members; and the need to assess the validity and fairness of the Board against more objective and independent criteria. Finally, some reflections and wider implications of the research for selection theory and practice are discussed. These include the value of assessment centres, the limitations of traditional validation as a catalyst for change and of validity and dollar utility as indicators of satisfactoriness and benefit, and the frequent insensitivity of social science conclusions and recommendations to alternative statistical assumptions.