Motivation: Theory and Research

By Harold F. O'Neil Jr.; Michael Drillings | Go to book overview

15 *
Motivated to Lead: Dispositional and Biographical Antecedents of Leadership Performance

Fred A. Mael Leonard A. White US Army Research Institute, Alexandria, VA

Researchers and practitioners interested in the prediction of performance have generally favored measures of aptitude, such as physical and cognitive tests. Measures of motivation, such as temperament tests, have fared relatively poorly in the past, especially when compared to other measures ( Asher & Sciarrino, 1974; Ghiselli, 1973; Reilly & Chao, 1982).

Recently, however, a reevaluation of the merits of dispositional indices as predictors of performance and as selection tools has occurred. A literature review by Kamp and Hough ( 1988) and meta-analysis by Barrick and Mount ( 1991) of the so-called "Big Five" personality dimensions ( Digman, 1990; Hogan, 1986; Hough, 1991; Tupes & Christal, 1961) have demonstrated that stable and significant prediction with dispositional measures is possible, although the practical utility of the measure will vary according to the personality dimension, the type of occupation, and the job performance criterion. These personality dimensions tend to be relatively independent of cognitive ability measures as well ( McRae & Costa, 1987). In addition, recent work demonstrates that individual temperaments, especially positive and negative affectivity, strongly influence job satisfaction and other job attitudes, regardless of job and organizational characteristics ( Arvey, Bouchard, Segal, & Abraham, 1989; Rafaeli & Sutton, 1989; Staw, Bell, & Clausen, 1986). Even in the area of leadership prediction, where trait theory has been much-maligned, meta-analysis of previous data, as well as better focused research, has resulted in a reconsideration of previous assumptions ( Lord, De Vader, & Alliger, 1986).

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*
The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US Army Research Institute, the US Military Institute, or the Department of the Army.

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