Managers in large organizations increasingly require complex cognitive and social skills to deal with rapidly changing situations, and there is correspondingly increasing interest in career development programs that teach the relevant skills. One such organization is the U.S. Army, whose officers make decisions that involve vast resources and have worldwide implications. Current Army officer training at each level provides knowledge and skills to meet the needs at that level. However, early development for individuals with the desire to do well in advanced positions could contribute to successful performance at that level as well as to career mobility. As one of its tasks, the committee agreed to formulate an approach to careers based on concepts from the career-development literature (e.g., the Jossey-Bass series on career development resources). This approach is intended to contribute to ways of thinking about how career planning can be incorporated in training programs to meet the needs of the Army and similar large organizations.
Central to many training programs is the assumption that self-insight is a necessary first step to career planning. It is assumed that a person's performance can be improved through increased insight into one's needs, motives, strengths, and weaknesses, and that this process can be aided by structured self-assessment techniques. The Army's interest in these techniques coincides with a growing industry of inventories marketed to organizations and individuals interested in leadership training, developing interpersonal influence skills, team building, improving communications, time management, or decision making and creative problem solving.
Many of the techniques are in widespread use in public and private organizations. However, there has been little research on their effectiveness for either improving performance or changing behavior, in either the short or the long term. Nor have the techniques been placed within a broader framework of career development. Until such evaluations have been done, the use of those techniques can only be considered experimental. Thus, this chapter does not include an evaluation of a wide range of techniques or review of literature. Instead, we present an approach to the evaluation of self-report instruments and a way of thinking about career development issues, taking into account recent work on managerial development and performance in organizations.
The first section proposes a framework for studying and assessing career development, with attention to the role of self-report instruments in a broad context. The second section briefly describes existing Army career programs and the results of a questionnaire survey of instruments used at the Army War College. The third section discusses an evaluation of one popular instrument, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The chapter concludes with recommendations for research and applications that would contribute to a broadening of the career development concepts that guide many current counseling programs.
A FRAMEWORK FOR CAREER DEVELOPMENT
The framework presented in this section is intended to provide ideas for improving the career development process and for generating further research that would assist in achieving that goal. The discussion uses concepts and findings from the relevant behavioral science scholarly and research literature dealing with careers and career development in organizational settings.1 It is relevant to the Army and its commissioned officers as well as virtually all large organizations.
The research literature points to seven basic propositions that should undergird any set of programs aimed at strengthening career development processes.
Each successively higher organizational level imposes new and broadened demands on knowledge and skills. It has long been known that upper-level executives formulate broad strategies, middle-level managers translate those strategies into operational goals, and lower-level managers or supervisors implement methods to achieve those goals. A recent IBM study, for example, found that top-level executives spend a great
deal of time monitoring the environment, managers at the middle levels concentrate on planning and allocating distributions of resources and on providing for coordination among various groups, and the lowest echelon managers spend the bulk of their efforts on relationships with subordinates and motivating and assessing individual performance (Kraut et al., 1989). Likewise, in the Army context, Jacobs and Jacques (1987) have shown that the higher the level of the job, the greater the need for the individual to demonstrate cognitive complexity— to be able to deal with increasingly abstract and ambiguous situations through both analysis and synthesis.
Unfortunately, there is no single and straightforward approach to determining individual requirements for different levels and different functional areas. Rather, it appears that there is a need to consider a wide range of individual characteristics: cognitive, interpersonal, and managerial skills; personality dimensions; interests; values; and motivation. Thus, as London (1990:9) notes: “a comprehensive view of the individual must match the complex nature of Army Officer positions.” It therefore follows that Army officers will need considerable assistance to gain an understanding of both their own characteristics —their strengths and relative weaknesses—and career aspirations in relation to the needs and demands of higher-level positions, and the role of training and on-the-job experiences in furthering their development for those positions.
Early career experiences are crucial for strengthening subsequent capabilities. Considerable research demonstrates the critical importance of initial job experiences—especially the types of assignment received and the types of supervision and mentoring provided to the person —for determining the course and speed of later career development (Bray et al., 1974; Bray and Howard, 1980; London, 1985; McCall et al., 1988). For example, McCall et al. (1988) identified several early career events that prepared executives-to-be for later career success: the first supervisory job; key project or task force assignments; rotation from line to staff positions, and vice versa; initiating an operation from scratch; turning a failed operation into a success; and coping with various hardships (e.g., sudden job changes, making a mistake, or dealing with a difficult subordinate). The import of these and other related findings is that career development and career planning—on the part of both the individual and the organization—should not be delayed until higher-level positions are attained but should begin at the very outset of a person's career and should continue.
Career motivation is a multidimensional construct and is a major factor in career success. Career motivation is one of a number of characteristics that are believed to contribute to an individual 's perfor
mance across a series of jobs and positions. The concept is multidimensional and includes needs, interests, and personality characteristics, which together influence the development of career resilience, insight, and identity (London, 1985; London and Bray, 1984). According to motivation theory, as applied to careers, “career resilience” is the maintenance component of motivation and refers to the ability to overcome career barriers and obstacles and take a proactive approach to accomplishing career objectives. “Career insight,” which, according to this theory, is the “energizing component” of motivation, refers to an understanding of one's strengths and weaknesses and an awareness of the social and political environment within one's organization. “Career identity,” representing the direction of motivation, encompasses one or more foci of one's energy and goals.
Together, these three dimensions form a pattern of career motivation. Resilience provides a foundation for forming a meaningful sense of insight, and insight forms the basis for developing career identities. Career motivation theory (London, 1983), therefore, argues for the continuous strengthening of career resilience and for efforts to develop insight and identity. It implies that those early in their careers, such as junior officers, need to experience tasks, jobs, supervisors, and work environments that will help them build confidence in themselves (resilience). They also need to begin to acquire information and feedback on their performance that will help them understand their personal strengths and capabilities, their areas of relative weakness or underdevelopment, and the operating environments in which they function (insight). Finally, they will need early on to establish some defined career targets, even though these may change over time (identity).
Although development occurs throughout a career, individuals are most receptive to learning during times of “frame-breaking change.” The concept of frame-breaking change refers to change that creates uncertainties about the continued effectiveness of current repertories or modes of behavior. Individuals undergoing these kinds of changes are assumed to be motivated to search for behaviors, new and old, that will be effective in the new environment. Research shows (e.g., Berlew and Hall, 1966) that the first year of an individual's career is one critical period for new learning. Similar periods also occur when a person begins a major new assignment or transfers to a significantly different geographical or work environment. All of these and similar situations provide opportunities for career development programs in which the person will be maximally receptive to feedback and to encouragement for undertaking efforts to add new capabilities or enhance existing ones. Thus, any organization, including the Army, needs to be alert to how
these critical junctures can best be used for career development that will benefit both the individual and the organization.
Individuals need at least some information about the requirements of positions at least two levels above their current position in addition to information about their current and next-level positions. This proposition argues that if individuals are to formulate realistic plans for their career development they need to receive information not only about their current jobs and those immediately ahead at the next level, but also about jobs and positions at least one level beyond that. In this way, they should have an improved perspective about how their current activities relate to the kinds of demands and requirements that will have to be met if they are to be promoted. Thus, ideally, both current and future job performance are enhanced.
The Army, like many organizations, already provides considerable training for positions at the current level in the organization and, often, the immediate next level. This proposition suggests that additional information on the types of capabilities, knowledge, and skills that may be required in the future be provided at relatively early stages in a person's Army career. This would permit the individual to engage in more long-range and effective planning for his or her career. While obviously not all officers will advance two levels from their current level, such information would help all officers better understand the organization of which they are a part and how their current assignment relates to it. Research on career motivation indicates that such motivation is higher in organizations that treat individuals as resources for the future as well as for the present (Bray et al., 1974; Hall, 1976; London, 1985).
When individuals plan ahead in making career decisions, they make better decisions. The more thought individuals give to making future career decisions, the better will be the quality of those decisions. This proposition implies obtaining as much relevant information as possible in advance of a career decision about one's self in relation to future job and organizational requirements. It also implies that it will be necessary to analyze and interpret such information so that it can be used effectively. Clearly, therefore, in the Army context there is a joint role for both an individual officer and the Army: both parties need to understand their complementary obligations to be as thoughtful as possible in career decisions. Uninformed or ill-informed career aspirations and decisions help neither an individual nor the organization.
Self-assessment is a potentially valuable aid in making informed career decisions. Self-assessment (in the context of this chapter) can be thought of as the systematic process of generating data about oneself
and analyzing those data to provide guidance for career decisions. It is a counterpart to systematic assessment of individuals by other means and other sources, such as performance appraisals involving assessment by superiors or assessment of performance in simulated work situations by trained observers. As noted by Sundberg (1977:299):
People need an understanding of their own values, resources and priorities to help them choose how they want to live. Tests and other assessment procedures can help. . . . They can become instruments not just for decisions and descriptions, but for learning about one's self or a special area of knowledge or skill . . . such methods can enable individuals . . . to move toward goals they devise.
The goal of self-assessment in career decisions is to facilitate a better match between an individual and particular types of work or positions. Potentially, self-assessment can improve the likelihood of individuals seeking jobs or vocations that match their skills and personality characteristics (Stumpf and Colarelli, 1980). Indeed, a well-known theory of vocational choice (Holland, 1973) offers considerable evidence supporting the usefulness of such matches. However, accurate and meaningful self-assessment is not easy because the generator of such information, the individual, is so close to and involved in the information supplied. Ideally, self-assessment methods and instruments should produce agreement between self and others and should be able to discriminate among different performance and skill dimensions (London and Stumpf, 1982). If they do, then they can play an important role in career development programs.
In this section we outline five major objectives, or action steps, for a systematic approach to career development programs. These action steps are based on the seven propositions identified in the preceding pages and current scientific knowledge about career development in organizations. They form a logical sequence, starting with an analysis of current skill requirements and career programs and ending with on-going and future evaluation of the entire process. (These steps in turn lead to the section on research priorities.)
Objective 1. Analyze current skill requirements and career programs. In the Army, a comprehensive review of current skill requirements and career programs would involve the following kinds of actions: an analysis of key technical skills required of officers at different levels and in different functional areas; an analysis of the current levels of skill of officers; and an inventory of existing career planning programs, assessment procedures, and career paths. The intent of this
first objective is to determine how well current needs are being met and to provide benchmarks for evaluating gaps between current and future required skills. Meeting this first objective would clarify the extent of integration among current approaches to skill development and career planning in the Army and, likewise, the extent to which there are gaps and discontinuities.
Objective 2. Identify skills and leadership styles that will be needed to a greater extent in the future in the Army. This objective is designed specifically to take into account the changing political, economic, and social conditions that will exist in the 1990s and beyond. Expected and desired skills and leadership styles appropriate to the future need to be identified and then compared with existing skills and requirements so that they can be incorporated into career development programs. Some skills and styles that may be relatively more emphasized in the future might include, for example: understanding world economic and political conditions; analyzing ambiguous situations that have no “right” or “wrong” answers; empowering subordinates; negotiating; resolving conflicts; building intergroup relations; and making complex resource allocation decisions. The relevance of each of these (and other similar skills and approaches to leadership) to positions at different organizational levels and functional areas need to be analyzed as a basis for communicating and incorporating them into career planning and development programs, as well as used as a basis for training, appraisal, and reward systems.
Objective 3. Design a systematic and continuous career planning and development process. On the basis of the results of achieving the first two objectives, the Army should proceed to design a set of career planning and development programs that are both systematic and continuous. This process assumes that officers themselves should have the central role and responsibility for their own career planning and development while the institution, the Army, provides the enabling resources. Guidelines for designing such a comprehensive and continuous process might include the following: assessment and self-assessment methods that cover a wide range of individual characteristics; information that is available to the officer concerning a range of specific career opportunities in the Army and the leadership and management skills requirements associated with each opportunity; the encouragement and expectation that officers will use that information to set their own educational and top experience goals; an explicit career planning process that can be applied to each major function and level of the Army; and reasonable opportunity for officers to determine their career directions within the limits of Army needs and requirements.
Objective 4. Identify and develop mechanisms to support the role of an officer as coach, developer, and mentor of subordinates. This objective sets the specific goal of emphasizing the necessity for coaching, developing, and mentoring activities by superiors as part of any effective career development process. To convert this objective into reality may require additional or special training programs as well as explicitly considering the performance of these activities in evaluation and reward systems. One such type of program would be tutoring or expert modeling along the lines discussed in Chapter 4. More generally, expert officers should be a good source of guidance about how careers can be best developed. Some of the expert modeling methods discussed in Chapter 4 can be used to elicit information on what officers do. Advantages and disadvantages of these methods are outlined in that chapter.
Objective 5. Conduct continuous and systematic evaluations of the various elements of the career planning and development process. This objective recognizes that setting up and establishing a sound career planning and development process is not enough. In order for it to remain effective, there must be planned systematic evaluations of its various components. Comparisons will need to be made between different approaches and programs to determine their relative efficacy and payoffs: the programs that are not meeting the criteria set for them need to be phased out or modified; those that are contributing to improved individual and organizational performance need to be supported. This objective also implies that research on various facets of the overall process should play a vital role, as will experimentation with new or innovative methods.
Future Research Priorities
This section presents some future research projects that could facilitate the goal of improving the Army's overall career development process. This list is meant to be suggestive rather than exhaustive and takes into account the reality of a limited resource base to undertake such research.
Longitudinal Studies of the Effects of Intensive Career Development Activities Particular cohorts of junior-level officers could be followed over time to compare the effects (e.g., performance, officer career satisfaction) on those given relatively greater amounts of intensive career development attention by means of various self-assessment and other assessment procedures, career counseling, and so forth in comparison with those given lesser amounts of career development attention. Such research studies would help provide an objective basis for the amount of
resources—direct and indirect—that the Army should devote to career development for officers.
Comparisons of the Effects of Particular Career Intervention Activities at Particular Times Given limited resources, it is probably not feasible to provide equally intense career development activities for all officers on a continuous basis. Thus, it will be important to determine, through research, at what specific point in an officer 's career certain developmental activities or assessments will have their greatest subsequent impact. Research of this type could compare the relative effects of the use of a given instrument or development exercise administered to different groups at different times.
Comparisons of the Effects of Specific Career Development Methods and Instruments Again, given limited resources of both the Army and of officers themselves in terms of their time and energy, choices will need to be made concerning which methods, procedures, and instruments should be used on a regular basis. Well-designed rigorous research involving direct comparisons between particular methods will be a cost-effective way to weed out those that are relatively ineffective, even if most or all of them may have a great deal of apparent validity and popularity.
Studies on How to Motivate Officers to Follow Up and Take Personal Action to Implement Further Skill Development Based on Information Provided by Career Assessment Activities As noted above, receiving useful information about one's self and about the requirements of potential future positions in a career sequence in an organization is only a first step. An individual must then act on this information if career development is to take place. Relatively little is known about how individuals use the career information they receive and what factors motivate them to take action. Research could test several different approaches to motivating follow-up action to see which are most effective. The criteria for determining the effectiveness of different motivational methods or approaches would be the extent and frequency of the concrete career development activities subsequently undertaken by officers within a given time.
Studies of the Effects of Career Coaching and Mentoring by Superiors Research could be conducted to determine the relationship between different amounts or types of career coaching and mentoring and subsequent career development behavior and career satisfaction.
Like many institutions, the Army has recognized the importance of considering the development of careers as a part of its approach to training. Although there is no system-wide program, a number of Army training facilities and bases have developed programs that include goal setting and self-reflection for career guidance. While sharing the overall objective of facilitating career planning, the programs vary in emphasis placed on particular techniques or procedures. These programs have been developed at the initiative of the local commanding officer; they offer alternatives to the traditional one-on-one counseling conducted between a soldier and his or her immediate supervisor. Four centers have established programs: the Army War College (AWC) at Carlisle, Pennsylvania; the National Defense University (NDU) in Washington, D.C.; Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas; and Fort Leavenworth in Leavenworth, Kansas. Participation at all the locations is intended only to help students expand their own self-awareness; the evaluations are not retained by the organization for administrative use.
Career counseling programs use several instruments intended to provide students with a variety of ways to view themselves on certain dimensions of intrapersonal and interpersonal styles. Five instruments are used in many of these programs: the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory, the Leader Effectiveness and Adaptability Description, the Terminal and Instrumental Values Surveys, and the Organizational Values Survey.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) The MBTI uses four indices, which are said to represent personality tendencies: “extraversion-introversion” (E-I), which is the distinction between whether a person prefers the external world of people and things or the internal world of ideas; “sensing-intuition” (S-N), which distinguishes between whether a person pays more attention to realistic, practical data or to one's imagination and the possibilities of a situation; “thinking-feeling” (T-F), which is the difference between valuing impersonal logic or personal values and emotions when processing information or making decisions; “judging-perceiving ” (J-P), which distinguishes between analyzing and categorizing the external environment and responding to it flexibly and spontaneously. The questions used to develop the four indices take the following form: “When you go somewhere for the day, would you rather (A) plan what you will do and when, or (B) just go?” The combination
of the four indices is a type or representation of how one operates in the world (e.g., ENTJ or ISFP). The type indices serve as a basis for guided discussions that usually take place in small groups.
Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI) This instrument is designed to measure different approaches to creativity, problem solving, and decision making. It provides a score on a continuum ranging from highly adaptive to highly innovative. “Adaptors” are regarded as those who produce ideas based on stretching existing agreed parameters, that is, improving and doing better. “Innovators” are assumed to be more likely to reconstruct the problem, expanding beyond current paradigms, that is, doing things differently. The questions take the following form: “How easy or difficult do you find it to present yourself, consistently, over a long period as a person who is patient?”
Leader Effectiveness and Adaptability Description (LEAD-Self) This instrument is designed to measure self-perception of three aspects of leadership behavior: style, style range, and style adaptability or effectiveness. It is based on the Hersey-Blanchard (1977) situational theory of leadership that distinguishes between the amount of task direction and the amount of socio-emotional support a leader provides, given the situation and the responsiveness of the followers or group. A companion to the LEAD-Self is the LEAD-Other instrument, which asks a respondent to describe the leadership behavior of another person.
Terminal and Instrumental Values Surveys Designed by Rokeach (1973, 1979), these surveys present students with lists of terminal values (states of existence, e.g., a comfortable or exciting life) and instrumental values (modes of conduct, e.g., active, ambitious, broadminded). The instruments are designed to identify the guiding values in a student's life. Respondents are asked to compare the values, arranged alphabetically, in terms of importance to them as guiding principles in their lives.
Organizational Values Survey This survey presents students with a list of values that might exist in an organization and form the climate of that organization, e.g., achieving, balanced, caring. Students are asked to put the alphabetically arranged values in priority order, in terms of whether they are reflected in the organization in which they work and whether the organization orders them in the same way.
The Army War College
The AWC has constructed a highly organized program intended to aid career planning for officers faced with mid-career decisions. The program is implemented during the first weeks after the student-officers arrive for their year-long stay in Carlisle. It is guided by a career
planning philosophy rooted in the idea of time management. Since time management assumes that a person knows what he or she wants, it is important to address the issue of goals: professional, family, community, and personal. To define this set of goals, the program uses self-assessment devices as a means for encouraging students to reflect on their goals and plans to achieve them.
Students are given a development guide that introduces them to the purposes of the program, its philosophy, and its steps. Organized in the form of a flow chart, the steps consist of data gathering and self-reflection (Where am I now? Who do I think I am?), goal setting (What is most important to me?), a learning plan (How can I achieve my life goals, and how will this year at the college contribute to them?), feedback (Is my learning plan realistic?), and periodic review. Each step consists of specific activities that are described in the guide. The first step, data gathering and self-reflection, includes writing narrative descriptions of the self-assessments of personal style (the MBTI), leadership style (LEAD-self), problem-solving style (the KAI), and values (Rokeach terminal, instrumental, and organizational values), as well as personal health and fitness. (Results obtained from a survey of the effects of these instruments are presented in the next section.) The second step, goals statement, asks students to rate the importance and assess the feasibility of goals organized by life areas. The third step consists of developing a learning plan designed to accomplish their goals at the college. The fourth step, feedback, asks students to review with a faculty adviser the goals and plans they have developed. Periodic review takes into account possibilities for changes as the year at the AWC unfolds. And, finally, the development guide reinforces a sense of commitment to time management by asking students to organize their activities through careful scheduling with the help of a daily calendar.
The National Defense University (NDU)
The NDU program is an abridged version of the program at the AWC. What the AWC program contributes in depth of understanding of the self-evaluation process, the NDU program contributes in breadth of participation: at the AWC, only 10 percent of the students participate in the semester-long elective course; at the NDU, 98 percent of the students participate in a self-assessment workshop lasting a few hours. Like the AWC program, the NDU program also includes a battery of self-assessment surveys and a goal-setting exercise during the first few weeks of attendance at the university and uses the MBTI, the KAI, and a health-fitness survey. A learning style inventory, an assessment of learning environmental preferences, the Campbell work orientation survey, and a personal opinions survey are administered only in the NDU program.
Although counseling is provided to aid students through the process of articulating their goals and work plans, the step-by-step procedures used at the AWC are not implemented in the NDU program. A smaller program at NDU, the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, is organized primarily around the MBTI and its interpretation in relation to group dynamics and team building. The NDU also offers stress-reduction clinics.
At Fort Bliss two general training courses, officer basic training and officer advanced training, are preceded by several self-assessment inventories. A nurse administers a health risk assessment survey and a chaplain administers a life expectancy stress test and the MBTI. Results are discussed on a one-on-one basis with each student, who also takes diagnostic tests for skills in such technical areas as computer literacy and map reading.
The Fort Leavenworth approach to career development is based on performance assessments that are part of a Leadership Assessment and Development Program (LADP). The LADP combines self-assessment with the assessments made by peers and trained assessors in nine areas: technical and tactical proficiency, communications, professional ethics, planning, management technology, decision making, teaching and counseling, supervision, and soldier team development. The assessor ratings are based on actual task performances (identified with various types of leadership positions), repeated for diverse tasks performed by students throughout the duration of the course, and also are made by different assessors. Some assessments are made quickly, for example, reactions to situations can be assessed in 10 minutes; other assessments are made over a longer period of time, for example, performing as a platoon leader on a tactical mission. The information gathered from these assessments are consolidated by senior assessors who prepare final assessment reports that serve as a plan for self-development. Like students at the AWC program, students at Fort Leavenworth engage in goal-setting exercises after a data-gathering phase. Unlike the students at the AWC, these students are provided with performance-based information that they can take into account in setting their goals. They are also given an opportunity to consider performance requirements for tasks at higher levels in the organizational hierarchy. (The issue of anticipating possible future performance requirements is discussed above in conjunction
with a new framework for career development.) As in the programs described above, care is taken to ensure that the evaluations are used only by the students for development purposes, without any implications for administrative decisions.
Survey of Effects
The four programs are similar in some respects, but they also differ. Although they all use self-assessment and goal-setting exercises, a key difference is between the programs that rely exclusively on self-assessment information for counseling (AWC, NDU) and the programs that use this information as part of a comprehensive performance evaluation that provides the basis for goal setting and planning (Fort Leavenworth).
The committee did not undertake an evaluation of these programs. It did, however, develop an approach to program evaluation that could serve as a model for systematic appraisal of effects. The approach entailed a questionnaire designed to assess several types of impacts: memory of feedback from instruments, relative value of various parts of the program or instruments, insights about self and others, follow-up actions in the short and long term, and overall impact on behavior and decisions. The questionnaire was divided into several parts, including questions about the program in general and about each of the self-assessment instruments used in the program in particular.
A pilot study was conducted with a sample of students in the 1989-1990 class at the AWC. These students participated in the AWC career development program during the latter part of August 1989. The questionnaires were administered in early February 1990, permitting sufficient time for assessments of memory and impact. The six parts consisted of questions about the overall program and memory and impact questions about each of the instruments used in that program and described above: the MBTI (Myers and McCaulley, 1985); LEAD-Self (Hersey and Blanchard, 1977); KAI (Kirton, 1984); terminal and instrumental values surveys (Rokeach, 1973, 1979); and values sought in the organization. The set of questions asked about each instrument was roughly parallel and concluded with a rating on a five-step scale of its impact on behavior and decisions, ranging from “very much” to “none.” Results are summarized in terms of percentages of responses in each of the areas assessed, followed by concluding observations.
On Memory Virtually all respondents (97 percent) remembered having taken the MBTI, as well as the letter symbols (97 percent) and where they “scored” on each type scale as defined by the instrument (87 per-
cent). This contrasts with 61, 68, and 68 percent recall for having taken the LEAD-Self, the KAI, and the Rokeach inventories, respectively. 2 The contrast between these instruments in recall is more evident with regard to specific results, with only 26, 13, and 13 percent of the respondents recalling their specific leadership style, style range, and style effectiveness, respectively. Of the respondents, 65 percent did not remember the values they listed on either the instrumental or terminal values survey, while very few recalled the values listed on the instrument “values I seek in my organization ” (87 percent had no recall for any of the values listed). Specific memory for scores obtained on the KAI was better, with 65 percent of the respondents remembering where they fell on a continuum between “highly adaptive” and “highly innovative.”
On New Insights A large number of the respondents indicated that the results confirmed what they already knew about themselves: 84 percent on the MBTI feedback; 55 percent on LEAD (48 percent indicated that the results were consistent with what supervisors or peers said about them); 65 percent on the KAI (58 percent indicated that these results were consistent with what supervisors and/or peers said about them); 26 percent for the Rokeach inventories (74 percent had no answer to this question) and 48 percent for organizational values. Few respondents indicated how any of the instruments, other than the MBTI, were of value to them; about half of the respondents had no answer to each of the questions asked about the specific instruments.
On Impact Eighty percent of the respondents indicated that the MBTI had either “very much” or “some” impact on their behavior. This contrasts to 33, 29, 33, and 39 percent for the other instruments. Equally compelling are the differences between the instruments on answers indicating “very little” or no impact: 12 percent for the MBTI compared with 28, 36, 36, and 35 percent for each of the other instruments. Virtually all the respondents indicated that the MBTI made them more aware of themselves and others, with 74 percent indicating that it caused them to change their behavior in relating to others, although they did not indicate what changes occurred. Few respondents indicated that any of the other instruments would lead them to make changes in their behavior: 16 percent on the LEAD, 16 percent on the KAI, 23 percent for the Rokeach values, and 23 percent for organizational values.
On the MBTI Clearly, this instrument had the strongest impact, with 61 percent of the respondents indicating that it was the aspect of the overall program that they found to be most helpful. While 71 percent found the follow-up discussion to be the most valuable part of the
process, 23 percent thought that it was this part in particular that needed to be improved. Interestingly, however, the MBTI made more respondents uncomfortable (26 percent) than the other instruments (3, 3, 13, and 6 percent). Yet this did not prevent a large number of the respondents from indicating that they plan to take specific actions in the future based on the MBTI information (61 percent). However, further probes did not reveal what these actions were, despite the 42 percent of respondents who indicated that they actually did take some actions in the period between participation in the program and administration of the questionnaire. (It is noted that this may be an inflated figure, since many of the respondents may have been motivated by social desirability or a need for self-justification.)
On the Program Practically all respondents (97 percent) indicated that the program should be continued, with few specific suggestions about how it might be improved (23 percent said that an MBTI “follow-up” should be undertaken). While seeming to be satisfied with the program, few respondents indicated specific actions that they plan to take as a result of participation. With regard to aspects of the program that they viewed as being least helpful, about half had no answer; 16 percent said the Rokeach surveys, 13 percent said the LEAD survey, and 9 percent said that the KAI was least helpful.
These results suggest several conclusions. First, the MBTI had a very different effect on respondents than all the other instruments: on memory, on self-insights, and on short- and long-term planning and actions (although the specific behavior changes were not identified). So influential was this instrument that a number of respondents indicated that some kind of follow-up (or periodic discussions) would be the best way of improving the program. Although probes on the meaning of “follow-up” were not made, it would appear that it refers to guidance on ways to use the feedback.
Second, an inconsistency in responses about the MBTI is its apparent impact on the one hand and the indication by most respondents that it confirmed what they already knew on the other. Perhaps it is that very confirmation that leads to action. Dissonant or inconsistent information may have the effect of producing either inaction or no change from previous behavior.
Third, the other instruments seemed to have little impact and unimpressive recall. It would be interesting to probe further for explanations: for example, are the results due to a lack of saliency of the content and topics addressed by the instruments or due to the way they are administered and discussed in class?
Fourth, while almost all respondents found the overall AWC program
to be valuable, few were able to be specific, especially with regard to impact on actions or decisions.
It must be cautioned that these results may not be representative of other populations or programs. The sample was small, from one program, and drawn entirely from the classes taught by the program 's administrator, who may have conveyed either more or less enthusiasm for the MBTI than for other instruments.
Despite the preliminary nature of this survey, however, it does appear that the MBTI is a very popular instrument that leads people to consider taking actions. It is also a widely used instrument that enjoys a large market throughout the United States and elsewhere. For this reason, the committee decided to devote additional attention to this instrument, the underlying theory, issues of reliability and validity, and research on various populations and uses.
AN APPRAISAL OF THE MBTI
The committee's survey results highlight the value of the experience of taking the MBTI from the perspective of the respondent. These remarks underscore a wider popularity as documented in several recent publications. For example, McCaulley (1988) estimates that the MBTI is used as a diagnostic instrument by 1,700,000 people a year in the United States, and Moore and Woods (1987) lists the wide variety of organizations in business, industry, education, government, and the military that use it. It is probably fair to say that the MBTI is the most popular “self-insight, insight into others” instrument in use today. Unfortunately, however, the popularity of the instrument is not coincident with supportive research results. This section summarizes available research and addresses the question of why there is a discrepancy between its popularity and the lack of evidence for its validity. Specifically, we focus on issues of reliability, validity, and effectiveness of applications; for a more detailed treatment of these and related issues, see Thayer (1988).
A number of reliability studies of the MBTI have been conducted. Corrected split-half and alpha reliability coefficients for continuous scores on each of the attitudes and functions typically range from .75 to .85, with some variation on the different scales (Bittle, 1987; Carlson, 1985; Myers and McCaulley, 1985; DeVito, 1985; Carlyn, 1977). While these results are acceptable, they do not address the key theoretical issue of the MBTI, which is stability of type. Test-retest reliabilities of type designations are more relevant. Myers and McCaulley (1985) report
test-retest reliabilities from 11 different samples. In these samples, between 24 and 61 percent of the respondents showed stability of type, with a median of 40 percent. A change in only one of the four categories in the type designation occurred in 27-44 percent of the respondents in these samples, with a median of 37 percent. McCarley and Carskadon (1983) report only 47 percent of their respondents retained their initial types over a period of 5 weeks. Changes in the type designations of these magnitudes suggest caution in classifying people in these ways and then making decisions that would influence their careers or personal lives. A more plausible approach would be based on the assumption that most people change over time as a result of new experiences. Self-assessment instruments like those represented by the MBTI are likely, at best, to capture a person 's current state and, therefore, should not be considered typologies.
With regard to scale independence, Carlyn (1977) found that three of the four MBTI scales—extraversion-introversion (I-E), sensing-intuition (S-N), and thinking-feeling (T-F)—are relatively independent. The fourth scale, judgment-perception (J-P), was related to the sensing-intuition scale with correlations ranging from .23 to .48 in 11 samples: sensors tended to be judgers, while intuitors tended to be perceivers in these samples. She interprets these results as support for the theory on which the instrument is based, which posits only three dimensions.
A number of different types of studies address the issue of validity: correspondences with self-typing, correlations with other instruments, behavior in experimental situations, and differences in MBTI profiles by occupation. The evidence from these studies is particularly relevant to the type of validity referred to as “construct validity.”
One approach to validation consists of comparing judgments made by analysts who are familiar with the Jungian philosophy underlying the instrument with analysts who are unfamiliar with that philosophy. Bradway's (1964) study showed differential correspondences between the self-typing and MBTI-typing for a sample of Jungian analysts: 100 percent agreement for the I-E comparisons, 68 percent for the S-N comparisons, 61 percent for the T-F comparisons, and 43 percent on all three dimensions in one study; 96, 75, 72, and 43 percent, respectively, in another study. Similar results were obtained in the correlational study reported by Stricker and Ross (1964). Less impressive results were obtained in studies using subjects who were less familiar with Jungian theory. Low correlations between self-typing and MBTI-typing were reported in the studies reviewed by Cohen et al. (1981). Subjects
in these studies were graduate students trained to use the Jungian typology for conducting interviews with other students.
Myers and McCaulley (1985) present correlational data from 20 studies showing relationships between MBTI scales and a wide variety of other instruments. They concluded that the I-E scale has good construct validity: it has high correlations with comparable scales of other instruments and low correlations with instruments designed to represent other constructs. In contrast, the S-N and T-F scales show relatively weak validity, with only moderate correlations with other instruments designed to measure similar constructs. Since these findings are based largely on high school and college student samples, however, caution is advised in attempting to generalize from them.
Several studies examined relationships between the I-E scale and observed behavior in experimental situations. The Carskadon (1979) study found differences between extraverts and introverts on some aspects of self-presentation during a “political talk,” but these findings were not replicated in another study that was done more carefully by the same author and colleagues (Vargo et al., 1986). Two other behavioral studies show partial support for the I-E scale: Moore and Carskadon (1984) found that their extraverts were more likely than introverts to observe people in the environment but not things. And Shapiro and Alexander (1969) found that extraverts preferred to wait with others for the occurrence of a fearful situation while the introverts preferred being alone.
Large data sets have been developed by Van Velsor (1988) and Myers and McCaulley (1985) on type preferences for people in different occupations. In general, sales people, entertainers, counselors, and managers and administrators have higher percentages of extraverts, while librarians, archivists, computer specialists, and medical doctors have higher percentages of introverts; farmers, clerical workers, and military personnel have higher proportions of sensors while social scientists, artists, counselors, and lawyers have higher proportions of intuitors. Some of the comparisons are presented as combinations of types: for example, INFPs have higher than expected proportions of counselors, clinical psychologists, writers, and journalists, or ENTJs will attract attorneys, managers, sales personnel, and engineers.
The temptation to use these data for vocational counseling should be tempered by three methodological problems. First, there is weak discrimination among occupations due to an overlap between the types and preferred occupations. Second, there is a lack of attention to normative data: for example, 12.4 percent of elementary teachers are ESFJs, but the same percentage of a random sample of U.S. women are also ESFJs. Third, no evidence has been presented on relationships to performance in those occupations. Given these problems, the types may simply be an
example of stereotypes. Despite these problems, the MBTI is becoming increasingly popular as a tool for vocational guidance.
The evidence summarized in this section raises questions about the validity of the MBTI. However, many users of the instrument have claimed that its value lies not in its diagnostic accuracy, which is problematic, but in its probative guidance. Respondents often emphasize the increased sensitivity gained from the discussions generated by MBTI feedback. It would seem that such gains could contribute to enhanced performance. Unfortunately, neither the gains in sensitivity nor the impact of those gains on performance have been documented by research. Nor has the instrument been validated in a long-term study of successful and unsuccessful careers. Lacking such evidence, it is a curiosity why the instrument is used so widely, particularly in large organizations.
Effectiveness of Applications
On the basis of a review of the published literature, Thayer (1988) concludes that most studies of the MBTI are inadequate and that, overall, there is a lack of systematic research on the many applications of the MBTI in organizations. His review covers studies on educational applications, training and development applications, and team-building applications. He notes three methodological criticisms of the research: the reporting of data is inconsistent and incomplete; statistical analyses are often incompletely described and may violate convention (e.g., no overall test of significance is calculated before detailed comparisons are made and no attention is given to appropriate baseline data in the analyses); and subjects or judges are often made aware of the hypotheses being tested. These problems prevent drawing conclusions from the studies, many of which are published in the Journals of the Center for the Applications of Psychological Type, Inc. (Journal of Psychological Type and Research in Psychological Type); we also note that, to date, few studies appear in mainstream research journals.
It may well be the case, however, that a more complete picture would be presented by taking into account the unpublished literature, such as technical reports, presentations, and dissertations. While such a review may indeed present a more complete assessment of the instrument, it is unlikely to offer a more optimistic appraisal. Thayer concluded that the relatively small community of MBTI researchers visible in the published literature are likely to have been also involved in the unpublished work. In most cases, a carefully designed and executed dissertation study or technical report would become a published article or be cited in the literature. Rather than search for more literature, it would seem more prudent to encourage better research on these issues.
Despite this overall appraisal, there are a few promising lines of research on the MBTI that could be further developed. Studies by Hoffman et al. (1981) and by Eggins (cited in Lawrence, 1984) suggest that the MBTI might be regarded as a measure of “learning style”: the Hoffman et al. (1981) study shows that the dropout rate of extraverted students in a computer-assisted military course could be reduced by adding more group discussion sessions and providing minilectures; the Eggins ' study shows that different types performed better when concepts were structured according to one or another approach referred to as inductive, deductive, or concrete. Studies by Blaylock (1983) and Brocato and Seaberg (1987) show that teams composed of mixed or complementary types performed better on various simulated tasks than teams of the same type. Since no attempt has been made to replicate these studies, the results must be regarded as only suggestive. Another line of investigation, developed by Yeakley (1982, 1983), indicates that similar styles communicate more effectively than dissimilar styles. More recent work by the same investigator (Yeakley, 1985) failed to replicate the earlier results, leading him to suggest that further tests of this hypothesis await reconciliation of the different results.
The lack of a supportive research foundation for the MBTI leads the committee to recommend that the instrument not be used in career counseling programs until its validity is supported by research. A positive recommendation would thus depend on the accumulation of evidence from studies designed according to rigorous methodological standards and conducted by a broad base of researchers from psychology, organizational behavior, and education. And even if the evidence is negative, the instrument could serve useful purposes: for example, it might be used to teach about the uncertainty of the category assignments and other deficits uncovered by the research.
Finally, it would seem appropriate to address the troublesome discrepancy between research results (a lack of proven worth) and popularity. What accounts for the popularity of an instrument that is not yet supported by research? Several reasons can be suggested. From the respondents' perspective, the MBTI provides generally positive feedback: the descriptors do not have clinical implications, they are presented as unique positive attributes, and they are sufficiently vague to apply to a large number of people in a wide variety of situations. Moreover, the opportunity to learn more about oneself and others in a nonthreatening environment (or to believe one is doing so) is an incentive for participation. It is not difficult to understand how such positive experiences can be a basis for popularity. From the perspective of organizational development, the instrument is a vehicle for addressing problems that can be resolved through guided discussion. Many profes-
sionals assume that the changes they observe during the sessions will transfer to the job setting and persist over time. And from the perspective of the instrument's developers, the profits from an audience eager for self-improvement encourages them to market the instrument aggressively; aggressive marketing—complete with type coffee mugs, t-shirts, pins, license plates—has apparently increased the number of consumers worldwide.
This phenomenon is not new to the committee and has been discussed in some detail with regard to other techniques that purport to enhance performance (see Druckman and Swets, 1988). Nonetheless, the popularity of this instrument in the absence of proven scientific worth is troublesome. As with the other techniques considered, career counselors are advised to take into account the reservations discussed in this section when considering the MBTI as part of a counseling package.
Career Planning Decisions on the use and value of specific career counseling and self-assessment instruments in organizational settings should be made within the context of a planned and systematic, organization-wide approach to career development. This applies to the Army as well as any other large, complex organization. The framework outlined in this chapter should be developed further in conjunction with relevant research: the longitudinal and cross-sectional studies suggested in the chapter are recommended with special attention to the structure of military organizations. Evaluations should be made of the cost-effectiveness of alternative career intervention activities with regard to the timing of the intervention and the methods used by the intervenors.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator At this time, there is not sufficient, well-designed research to justify the use of the MBTI in career counseling programs. Much of the current evidence is based on inadequate methodologies. Better evaluation studies, conducted according to rigorous methodological standards, are recommended. One type of useful evaluation would be to compare “successful” and “unsuccessful” careers. Positive results obtained from these studies, if replicated with different samples, could justify the use of the MBTI instrument in career counseling programs. Other self-assessment instruments currently in use or contemplated for use in counseling programs should also be subjected to the same rigorous evaluation.
Research on the effects of guided discussion, such as the discussions held on feedback from the MBTI or other self-assessment instruments is recommended. Such research should distinguish between subjective re-
actions to the experience and observed effects on subsequent actions and career performance.
We must, however, conclude this chapter on a cautionary note with reference to the Army. The type of career planning recommended by the committee emphasizes opportunities for crucial career experiences, especially early in a career (see proposition 2, above), but the transient character of most jobs in the Army, due largely to incentives for promoting officers with many different jobs, may militate against such opportunities. Frequent job changes may also lead to both job and career dissatisfaction and to personal or family disruptions. It will be necessary to take into account the impact of these factors on decisions made for long-term career development.
1. Substantial portions of this section are based on a commissioned paper by London (1990).
2. Respondents' actual scores could not be obtained. The remembered scores, used in the analysis, may not be the same as the actual scores.
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