Academic journal article Administrative Science Quarterly

Working Smarter and Harder: A Longitudinal Study of Managerial Success

Academic journal article Administrative Science Quarterly

Working Smarter and Harder: A Longitudinal Study of Managerial Success

Article excerpt

natural language and in questionnaires." In Lawrence A. Pervin (ed.), Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research: 66-100. New York: Guilford Press.

John, Oliver P., and Brent W. Roberts 1993 "Measuring the five-factor model on the Adjective Check List." Technical report, Institute of Personality and Social Research. University of California, Berkeley.

John, Oliver P., and Richard W. Robins 1994 "Accuracy and bias in self-perception: Individual differences in self-enhancement and the role of narcissism." Journal of Personality and In the past several years, organizational researchers have engaged in a rather artificial debate about the extent to which individual differences or dispositions predict job outcomes such as attitudes and behaviors (e.g., Davis-Blake and Pfeffer, 1989). While the debate is provocative, a careful examination indicates that there may be less substance to this debate than it seems. By now, most organizational researchers acknowledge the fundamental importance of situational effects, the existence of stable individual differences, and their interaction as causes of behavior (Wright and Mischel, 1987; Chatman, 1989). The controversy lies in questions about the usefulness of measuring dispositions that are sometimes poorly specified and lack reliability and validity, the absence of well-developed theoretical justifications for constructs for given situations, and the frequent use of cross-sectional research designs that do not permit adequate longitudinal testing of clearly specified hypotheses (e.g., Weiss and Adler, 1984).

It is clear that poorly designed studies of dispositions exist, but some stable individual differences may predict important attitudes and behavior. Intelligence, or general cognitive ability (GCA), has a long, well-documented history of research that reliably predicts important organizational outcomes such as job performance and career success (e.g., House, Howard, and Walker, 1992). Hunter (1986: 340) reported a review of "hundreds of studies showing that general cognitive ability predicts job performance in all jobs." The predictive ability of GCA increases for jobs or situations that require increased information processing. This is consistent with Wright and Mischel's (1987) competency-demand hypothesis, which implies that people with more general cognitive ability are likely to perform better in cognitively demanding situations. General cognitive ability predicts performance across jobs, settings. and careers (Gottfredson, 1986; Dreher and Bretz, 1991; Schmidt, Ones, and Hunter, 1992).

Personality researchers have largely ceased to be concerned with the idea of a pure trait or dispositional approach, however, and widely agree that behavior is a function of both individual and situational factors. Kenrick and Funder (1988: 31) reviewed the person-situation debate and concluded that "As with most controversies, the truth finally appears to lie not in the vivid black or white of either extreme, but somewhere in the less striking gray area." Situations may affect people, while people may affect situations and maintain distinctive personal styles across situations (Schneider, 1987).

There are several problems here for organizational researchers. First, intelligence or general cognitive ability is a construct that most organizational scholars have not investigated. Instead of building on the massive evidence for the efficiency of GCA as a predictor of job-related outcomes, researchers have pursued other, less well-defined dispositional constructs (Gerhardt, 1987). This has led some experts to raise the obvious question, "If the predominance of the g [general cognitive ability] factor has been apparent to many if not most psychologists ever since mental tests were invented, why should so much time, energy, and creativity have been invested in the attempt to identify and measure more limited abilities?" (Tyler, 1986: 446).

Second, some of the earliest models of human performance (e. …

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