Perceptions of competence

By Marc Resnick

I was introducing two colleagues last night at the IIE Annual Conference Opening Reception. I introduced one of them as one of the most competent management IEs I know. Afterwards, I stopped to consider why I had such a high opinion of him. I couldn’t actually put my finger on anything specific, so it got me thinking  about the research in perceived competence (that I have blogged about in the past – check out my old blog at

There is a lot of evidence that personal liking has a strong effect on perceived confidence. I like this colleague very much as a person, so that could be having unconscious effects. There is also a strong transfer effect – I know he is very good at other things, so that could be transferring to my opinion of his IE skills. There could also be a contribution of reputation. Other people think he is an excellent IE, so I take their word for it.

Why am I bringing this up? Because your professional reputation is very important to your career. Having a stronger one is never a bad thing. It’s good to keep in mind how many ways there are to build it. In academia, I am often frustrated that conference papers are given so little credit towards tenure and promotion in academia and industry because the networking opportunities are very valuable and we should be encouraging young faculty and young professionals to attend.