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Transcript of Greenberg CH04

Chapter

4

Individual Differences: Personality, Skills, and AbilitiesChapter OutlinePersonality: Its Basic Nature Major Work-Related Aspects of Personality: The Big Five, Positive versus Negative Affectivity, and Core Self-Evaluations Additional Work-Related Aspects of Personality Abilities and Skills: Having What It Takes to Succeed

Special SectionsHow to Do It Increasing Self-Efficacy Among Employees OB In a Diverse World Achievement Motivation and Economic Growth Around the World OB Making Sense Out of Common Sense Is Job Performance Linked to Cognitive Intelligence?

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Define personality and describe its role in the study of organizational behavior. Identify the Big Five dimensions of personality and elements of core self-evaluations and describe how they are related to key aspects of organizational behavior. Distinguish between positive and negative affectivity and describe its effects on organizational behavior. Describe achievement motivation and distinguish among learning, performance, and avoidance goal orientations. Describe Machiavellianism and the difference between morning and evening persons and their role in work-related behavior. Differentiate among cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence, and practical intelligence and explain their influences on behavior in organizations.

Preview CaseCharles Schwab Brings Back Charles SchwabIn the early 2000s, even the savviest of Wall Street investors was in for a rough ride. The easy-to-come-by gains of the previous decade were only a memory, and the brokerage firm Charles Schwab was feeling the pinch. Between 2000 and 2002 assets plummeted from almost $700 million to only $100 million. Something had to give, and what would give way, the firms board of directors decided, was the job of CEO David Pottruck. After five years in office, he was asked to step down, paving the way for the return of the companys founder and namesake. Charles Schwab, everyone believed, was special and the company that bore his name once again begged for his special touch. Schwab founded the firm with a single office in Seattle back in 1977. Unlike his competitors at the time (including giants like the venerable Merrill Lynch), which charged sizable fees on stock trades to customersprimarily companies and wealthy individuals Schwab had a maverick idea: Charge much lower commissions so that the average person could invest in the stock market with modest amounts of cash, bringing Wall Street to Main Street. Lower commissions, though, required higher sales volume. To make this viable, Schwab made another bold, bet-the-company move: He invested in a mainframe computer system designed to streamline transactions. This was in 1979, when computers were major expenses (often requiring huge, temperature-controlled rooms) and were not in widespread use. The investment really began to pay off in 1984, when the first personal computers were introduced. Thats when Schwab debuted The Equalizer, a now-prehistoric (DOSbased) computer program for everyday investors, which eventually pointed the way toward an online future. Shortly thereafter, long before the Internet trading frenzy of the late 1990sbefore the Internet was developed, in factSchwab made online investing available to CompuServe subscribers, reaching out to his new market: individual investors who knew what financial products they wanted to purchase and who didnt require much advice. Soon, the novelty wore off, competition for discount brokerage services set in, and when times got tough, navigating the stock market successfully required professional know-how. This is when everyday people became disenchanted (and much poorer), causing the company to lose customers. This was in 2004, when the visionary Schwab was handed back the reins of the nowstumbling company and asked to rework his magic on it. What he found was not the same prestigious firm he left earlier. Throughout the company, morale was low. We lost the133

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PART 2 BASIC HUMAN PROCESSES

emotional connection with our clients, he observed. The firm had antagonized clients by raising some fees and marketing products in an impersonal manner. The firm lost momentum, Schwab believed, because it became disconnected with its customers. Realizing this almost immediately, he lowered commissions and changed operations and policies so as to regain those precious connections. Only 18 months into his second term as CEO, not only has Charles Schwab, the man, gotten the company to regain its dominance in the field, but he grew Charles Schwab, the firm, to $1.2 trillion in assets through the first half of 2006. Today, its no longer advances in technology that Schwab is using to strengthen its business. Everybody has the latest computers. Rather, Schwabs secret weapon through 2010 is much more old-fashioned: people. Id like to have every client of Schwab have the sense that they have a relationship with Schwab, he says, which includes that they have somebody that they can trust, that they can talk to. And this, he emphasizes in egalitarian fashion, goes from the largest clients we have to even some of the smallest.

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individual differencesThe many ways in which individuals can differ from each other.

f you were to describe Mr. Schwab, what terms would you use? Would you say hes dedicated? Innovative? A visionary? A risk-taker? Surely, hes all these things and more. Hes also highly sensitive to peopleboth his employees (whose low morale he observed) and his customers (whose dissatisfaction he noted). No matter how you put it, Charles Schwab is quite special and a highly successful businessperson, to say the least. Many of us surely find it difficult to relate to such a unique individual. That makes sense. However, in our own wayseven if we arent the founders or CEOs of giant brokerage firmswe are each unique. After all, each of us has a one-of-a-kind mix of traits, characteristic, skills, and abilitiesa combination that makes us different, in various ways, from every other human being on the planet. Scientists refer to the ways in which people differ from one another as individual differences, and such unique qualities can have major influences on our thinking and behavior as well as our lives and careers. Because such factors play a role in many aspects of behavior in work settings, they have long been of interest to experts in the field of organizational behavior. As such, in this chapter we provide a broad overview of this knowledge. Our plan is as follows. First, we focus on personality, one very important aspect of individual differences. Here, we first consider the matter of how various facets of personality combine with elements of the work environment to influence behavior. This is important, of course, because according to the popular interactionist perspective to organizational behavior, how we behave is based on both who we are (i.e., individual influences) and the contexts in which we operate (i.e., situational influences).1 Following this, we turn to the question of how personality can be measured. Since traits and abilities are not physical quantities that can be observed readily, this is not the easiest thing to do, but, as youll see, something scientists are able to do quite effectively. Then, after describing these measurement methods, we describe a wide variety of personality variables that have been found to have important effects in the workplace. Finally, in another major section, well examine several abilities (mental and physical capacities to perform various tasks) and skills (proficiency at performing specific tasks acquired through training or experience) and their effects on various aspects of organizational behavior.

Personality: Its Basic NatureDeep down, Im pretty superficial. (Ava Gardner, American actress, 1983) Thats a fairly devastating self-description by a famous movie star of the 1940s and 1950s. How would you describe your own personality in a single sentence? Admittedly, thats a very difficult task, because what makes each of us unique is complex and hard to put into words. But personality involves more than just uniquenessit has other important features, too. Since understanding the nature of personality is crucial to appreciating

CHAPTER 4 INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES: PERSONALITY, SKILLS, AND ABILITIES

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its potential role in organizational behavior, we begin by taking a closer look at this important concept.

What Is Personality?As we noted earlier, we are all, in some ways, uniquethat is, we all possess a distinct pattern of traits and characteristics not fully duplicated in any other person. Further, this pattern of traits tends to be stable over time. Thus, if you know someone who is optimistic, confident, and friendly today, then chances are good that he or she also showed these same traits in the past and that this person will continue to show them in the future. Together, these two features form the basis for a useful working definition of personalitythe unique and relatively stable pattern of behavior, thoughts, and emotions shown by individuals (see Figure 4.1).2 Just how stable are various aspects of personalityor individual differences in general? Evidence suggests that they are quite stable.3 For instance, consider job satisfaction, a topic well examine in Chapter 6. Interestingly, scientists have found that although some people are satisfied under almost any working conditions, others tend to be dissatisfied under almost any conditions (even when these are truly excellent).4 Such individuals are difficult to satisfy. This doesnt imply that job satisfaction cannot be changed or that it is not affected by working conditions; as you will see in Chapter 6, this is not the case. However, this scientific observation does illu