BU288 Lecture 3 Ch. 2: Personality & Learning Tues. Sept. 18. 2012.
Learning is critical for effective OB; for organizations to remain competitive in today’s changing
environment, worker learning must be continuous and life-long
While learning is necessary for knowledge, skills, and behaviours, studies in OB show that behaviour
is also a function of personalities
Personality and OB
Personality: relatively stable set of psychological characteristics that influences the way someone
interacts with the environment. Someone’s personality summarizes their personal style of dealing
with the world reflected in the distinctive way that we react to people, situations, and problems
Personality consists of many dimensions and traits that are determined in a complex way by genetic
predisposition and by long-term learning history relatively stable, but can change
There is a significant amount of variability in personality, and people vary in how variable they are
Using personality in hiring is not straightforward – there are a lot of issues to consider
Dispositional approach to OB focuses on individual dispositions and personality, and how it affects
attitudes and behaviours we are predisposed to behave in certain ways most of the time
- But research failed to support the usefulness of personality as a predictor of job performance.
Thus, there was a decrease in personality research & the use of personality tests for selection.
- Problem with early research was the use of inadequate measures of personality characteristics.
Advances in measurement and trends in organizations prompted renewed interest.
- Increased emphasis on service jobs with customer contact, concern about ethics and integrity,
and contemporary interest in teamwork point to the potential contribution of personality.
- The development of the Five-Factor Model also renewed interest in personality
Situational approach: focus on factors in work environment that predict/explain OB. Characteristics
of the organizational setting (reward, punishment) determine people’s attitudes & behaviour.
- Same person acts differently in different situations not useful to describe using traits
- Ex: job satisfaction and other work-related attitudes are largely determined by situational factors
such as the characteristics of work tasks
Interactionism: After debate, it is agreed that OB is a function of both dispositions and the situation.
To predict and understand OB, one must know something about an individual’s personality and the
setting in which he/she works. most widely accepted perspective within OB
- Weak situations: not always clear how a person should behave Personality has big impact as
weak situations have loosely defined roles, few rules, weak reward & punishment system.
- Strong situations: there are clear expectations for appropriate behaviour
- It is useful to describe people using a frequency distribution
- Some personality characteristics are useful in certain organizational situations. There’s no one
best personality managers must appreciate employee diversity
- Fit (Person-Organziation): key concept of putting the right person in the right
job/group/organization that exposing different employees to different management styles
Five-Factor Model (FFM) of Personality (Big Five)
Provides a framework for classifying personality characteristics into 5 general dimensions makes
it easier to understand and study role of personality in OB
Researchers identified 1000s of adjectives used to describe people. These traits were analyzed to
see how they could be grouped together. Several researchers came up with the same 5 clusters.
The dimensions are relatively independent you can be higher/lower in any combination
Extraversion Extent to which someone is outgoing vs. shy.
1 BU288 Lecture 3 Ch. 2: Personality & Learning Tues. Sept. 18. 2012.
High scores here = sociable, outgoing, energetic, joyful, assertive
Extraverts enjoy social situations, while introverts avoid them
important for jobs requiring interpersonal interaction (sales and management)
Emotional degree to which a person has appropriate emotional control
stability / high stability (low neuroticism) = self-confident and high self-esteem, calm,
Neuroticism secure likely to have effective interactions with co-workers and customers
high neuroticism = self-doubt, depression, anxious, hostile, impulsive, stressed
extent to which a person is friendly and approachable, respect others
Agreeable = warm, considerate, altruistic, friendly, sympathetic, cooperative,
and eager to help (vs. cold and aloof, argumentative, inflexible, intolerant, etc.)
contribute to job performance in jobs that require interaction & helping,
cooperating, and nurturing others, as well as jobs involving teamwork.
Conscientiousness degree to which a person is responsible and achievement-oriented
conscientious people are dependable and positively motivated, orderly, self-
disciplined, hard-working, and achievement-striving (vs. irresponsible, lazy)
good performance in all jobs across occupations, and strongest predictor
Openness to extent to which a person thinks flexible and is receptive to new ideas
Experience open people tend toward creativity and innovation (vs. status quo), believe in
the importance of art, have a vivid imagination (vs. conservative)
do well in jobs that involve learning and creativity given that they are
intellectual, curious and imaginative and have broad interests
people in different cultures use these same dimensions to describe friends/acquaintances
how the dimensions affect performance depend on the occupation
compared to managers, entrepreneurs have higher conscientiousness & openness to experience,
and lower neuroticism and agreeableness
the dimensions are related to other work behaviours
- ex: conscientiousness is related to retention and attendance at work, and is an important
antidote for counterproductive behaviours like theft and disciplinary problems
- ex: extraverts tend to be absent more often than introverts
- performance, attendance, counterproductive behaviours, motivation, career success,
organizational citizenship behaviour, leadership, turnover, burnout, ethical, job satisfaction
the Big Five are related to work motivation and job satisfaction
- emotional stability & conscientiousness are strongest predictors of motivation (positively related)
- Strongest predictor of job/life satisfaction was emotional stability, then conscientiousness,
extraversion, and agreeableness. openness is unrelated to job/life satisfaction
- People with higher extraversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, and conscientiousness
perform better on a team due to cooperation, concern, and courtesy to team members
The Big Five are all positively related to the intensity of a job seeker’s job search and career