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Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI): examining behavioural aspects of executives in 'IT'.
Abstract:
Personality tests have been widely used as an indicator for measuring performance of individuals. Among many personality type indicators, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a widely used as a strong instrument to learn individual differences for the last five decades. It's application in the industry has been widely discussed. The indicator helps organisations to utilise the talent of its employees within the organisation.

The present study tries to analyse the personality dimensions of middle level executives in the 'IT' based on the MBTI types of indicators. The study was conducted among 200 middle level executives. The basic inference emerging from this study is that the dominant personality indicators of executives in the IT sector are basically extroverts, which is related to their judging capacity. As competition is getting momentum in Indian IT industry, such studies will be helpful to understand the personality types of executives in the industry.

Author:
Rajagopal, N.
Pub Date:
07/01/2008
Publication:
Name: Abhigyan Publisher: Foundation for Organisational Research & Education Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business; Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Foundation for Organisational Research & Education ISSN: 0970-2385
Issue:
Date: July-Sept, 2008 Source Volume: 26 Source Issue: 2
Accession Number:
191857194
Full Text:
"Whatever circumstances of your life, the understanding of the type can make your perception clearer, your judgement sounder, and your life closer to your heart's desire".

--Isabel Briggs Myers

Introduction

Personality tests have been widely used by behavioural scientist as an indicator of measurment of performance/effectiveness. This helps a manager to understand the strength and weakness of an employee and to take calculative steps to match with his job. Individual differences and personality factors have emerged as an important research topic in applied organisational behaviour (Berr et. al, 2000). The basic idea of understanding personality types are to help employees and managers and appreciate their styles and help them to match with their jobs (Overholt, 2004).

Among different personality type indicators, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a widely accepted personality test designed to identify personal preferences. The nature of type of personality was originally developed by C. G. Jung which was later operationalised by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katherine Briggs in the well-known Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in 1975. According to Filbeck et. al (1996), Carl Jung's theoretical framework on MBTI observed certain psychological preferences in judgment and interaction with the world. It has been used as a powerful instrument to learn individual differences for the last five decades. The scope of such indicators is even extended to english literature and referred as a predictive behavioural technique to understand the personality types of Shakespearean characters (Anderson et. al, 1985).

MBTI is a widely used instrument for personality analysis (Webb,1990). It has been widely applied in the workplace for decision-making, problem solving, managing conflict, understanding work-related stress, recruitment etc (Feig, 2005; Simms, 2004) and was applied mainly among the managers for their profiling (Vicky Tan, 1999 et. al). It is considered as a significant tool in career planning and development (Yen et. al, 2002 et. al; Vacha-Haase et. al, 2000). The type indicator provides self-confirming insights and helps make patterning of human behavior understandable and acceptable (Dash, 1990 and Berry et. al, 1991).

It is reported that more than three million people take MBTI each year and basically it is administered in companies (Gardner et. al, 1996). Organisations started to look at MBTI type of personality indicators as the most valuable resources (Maxon, 1985), which is a useful instrument for organisational operations (Lindon, 1995), managerial attributes, behaviors and effectiveness (Gardner et. al, 1996). Many organisations use MBTI as a measurement to evaluate the personality indicators of its employees. It is considered as an indicator to classify management personality types in the organisation (Yen et. al, 2002). The indicator helps to discuss the influence of different personality types in the organisation and its development and helps organisation to utilise the talent of its employees within the organisation (Agor, 1989).

MBTI Personality Types

Personality type is a combination of personality traits which is generally stable internally and helps to explain the behaviour of people (Parkinson et. al, 2007). The indicator will help to identify one's inborn traits to explain in a given context (eg. organisation). MBTI types are known as dichotomies such as extraversion / introversion, sensing / intuition, thinking / feeling and judging / perceiving. These are by four-letter abbrevations such as ESTJ or INFP which indicate that type's preference in each dichotomy and 16 types of personality are developed when these preference scales are combined in all possible combinations. These are ISTJ, ISFJ, INTJ, ISTP, ESTP, ESFP, ENFP, ENTP, ENFJ, ENTJ, INFJ, ISFP, INFP, INTP, ESTJ and ESFJ.

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The 16 possible code types are considered to have unique behavioral patterns (Rodney K, 1989) and can be used as a powerful instrument to study distinct learning styles (Booth et. al, 1993).

MBTI types of indicators were widely applied among the executives and managers of different organisation. It helps the managers for the planning process and strategic planning decisions (Jennings et. al, 2006). The test has been widely used in many management programmes (Fortune, 1987). It is a widely used personality instrument in management training (Raghuram, 1993). Credit world (1992) reported that Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test which helps executives to manage their subordinates more effectively.

In a study conducted among executives, Hough et. al (2005) finds that iNtuiting/ thinking managers use their intuition to take effective decisions and sensing/feeling types helps in carrying out more socially acceptable decisions. Further the study reveals, extroverted managers are more effective than Introverted.

According to Carr (2006), managers tend to fall into four main MBTI types--ESTJ, ENTP, ISTJ and ENTJ. Extraversion Vs Introversion mainly focus on the source of someone's mental energy; Sensing vs. "iNtuiting," identifies how one absorbs information; Thinking versus feeling measures how one makes decisions; and Judging versus Perceiving represents the quick decision making capacity (Leonard et. al, 1997). A cross sectional study among Europe and Chinese managers based on the MBIT reveal that extroversion and introversion is found more among Chinese group and thinking/ feeling dimension is noticed among European group (Furnham et. al,1993).

The very concept of MBTI is also a subject of criticism, especially as a method for using counselling and as a devise to improve client decision-making. Empirical researches on these aspects need to be carried out (Coan 1978; Comerey, 1987; Garden, 1985).

As discussed in the previous paragraphs, Myers Briggs model of personality is based on four preferences, which represents the first letter of each type of personality. These combinations are E vs. I, S vs. N, T vs. F and J vs. P (table 1).

The operational meaning of each indicator is given in the box I.

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Present Study

The present study is applied to the middle level executives of IT industries. Initially, the study tries to analyse 16 combinations of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality dimensions and identify dominant personality indicators. The study further analyses the correlation of these personality indicators and the implications are discussed in the context of 'IT'.

Methodology

The study has been conducted among two hundred middle level executives in the IT industries. The executives were selected from across different IT companies in India. The source of list of employees was prepared in consultation with the responsible person in each company. The selection of the sample was based on simple random sampling techniques. Information has been collected through a well-designed questionnaire. Frequent contacts with the respondents helped to maintain accuracy of the data. A pilot study, which was initiated just prior to the data collection, helped to make necessary modification with the questionnaire. Internal consistency of data of the present study is measured with Cronbach's coefficient alpha, which is .6612. In this context the researcher acknowledge that the reliability and validity of many standard questionnaire of such studies are proved in between between 0.59 to 0.94 (Millon 1997; Wheeler 2001; Girelli et. al 1993).

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Analysis

The average age of the executives is thirty six years and the average experience is six years. A descriptive analysis of the combined score of the type of personality indicators is given in percentage (table II). The average score of ESTJ and ESFJ constitute more than 90 percent and the score is more than 80 percent in the case of ISTJ (86.63), ISFJ (83.13), INTJ (80.25), ISTP (80.25), ESTP (87.75), ESFP (87.25), ENFP (83.38), ENTP (83.38), ENFJ (87.25) and ENTJ (87.75). However the score is below 80 percent in the case of INFJ (79.75), ISFP (79.75), INFP (76.38) and INTP (76.88).

The combinations of personality types are broadly categorized into three such as:--High (90 percent and above), Medium (80 percent--90 percent) and Low (below 80 percent) (table III).

Carl Pearson correlation coefficient is used to test significant relation between one to one personality indicators (table IV). Positively correlated factors are perceiving with feeling (.058), introvert (.178), sensing (.094) and thinking (.091); Judging with extrovert (.175), feeling (.053) and sensing (.115); extrovert with feeling (.123); judging (.175) and thinking (.012); Feeling with extrovert (.123), introvert (.034), judging (.053) and perceiving (.058); introvert with feeling (.034), perceiving (.178) and thinking (.099); iNtuitive with extrovert (.141), introvert (.065), judging (.090), perceiving (.197) and sensing (.169); sensing with judging(.115), perceiving (.094) and thinking (.076) and finally, thinking is positively co-related with extrovert (.012), perceiving introvert (.099) perceiving (.091) and sensing (.076). The statistical significance of correlation is indicated with star marks for the significant level at .005 and .001.

Discussions

Discussions are centered on the pattern of personality types indicators of the middle level executives. The personality dynamic score describes a high score regarding the combination variables such as ESTJ and ESFJ, which score more than 90 percent (figure 1). This means that the dominant personality types among the executives are the combination of the personality types such as (i) extraversion, sensing, thinking and judging; (2) extraversion, sensing, feeling and judging. In other words, it is the internal states in which how executives in the IT sector behave (Parkinson et. al, 2007). It is to be noted that extraversion, sensing and judging is common in both dominant personalities, which signifies its relevance.

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The character of sensing and feeling reflects the capacity of taking socially acceptable decisions (Hough et. al, 2005). Extraversion is a character of positive communicator behavior (Susan et. al, 2003), which is a pre-requisite for executives. Prominent personality types indicators reveal that these executives are dynamic and have good thinking and judging power, which helps in decision making (Cheng et. al, 2003).

The correlation metrics indicates how each personality type indicator significantly associated with each other. The figure II described that iNtuitive personality type is significantly related to sensing, perceiving and extrovert. Extravert is associated with judging and perceiving is associated with introvert.

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Following inferences can be drawn from the above discussion.

Inference I:--iNtuitive is associated with Sensing, Perceiving and Extrovert

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The iNtutive is considered as a non-linear thinking (Vance et. al, 2007). The inference--I explains that the thinking and thoughts of executives are constantly modified based on their systematic understanding of the outside world. Probably, this is the reason why they are extrovert. This can be interpreted that the executives respond to the outside world after thoroughly analysing the situation with their senses. It is also interesting to note that the relationship between iNtuitive and sensing is supportive rather than opposites.

Inference 2: Extrovert is related to judging.

This indicates those respondents who draw energy from the outer world of people have much more logical character. They emphasize values and merits on issues and prefer for forming judgments. When compared with introverts, extroverts are good at decision making due to their cognitive knowledge (Hough et. al, 2005). This helps in the process of decision performance. Psychologically, extroverts are superior and get more life satisfaction when compared with introverts (Harrington et. al, 2005).

Inference 3: Perceiving is related to Introvert

This reflects that the introverts try to postpone their decision-making and continue to gather or process information. Ultimately the cognitive influence of decision making do not make any impact on their judgment.

Ranking of combination of different personality types based on the score indicates 'introvert' (I) mostly appears in the low score categories of combinations of personality and 'extrovert' in the higher score. In the radar chart (figure III) the thick line indicates the variations of combination of personality types. This confirms that among different combination of personality indicators, extroverts dominate among the executives.

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[FIGURE III OMITTED]

Extrovert and introvert are generally considered as opposite characters and interestingly the type of indicators, which is related to each also is reflected as opposite. Correlation test identifies that extrovert is related to judging (.175) and introvert is related to perceiving (.178). Judging shows the character of taking good decision and perceiving reflects the character of postponement of decisions. The opposite relation is represented figure IV.

[FIGURE IV OMITTED]

The extroverts like variety and action, tend to be faster and dislike complicated procedures. They are often good at greeting people and are impatient at long, slow jobs, act quickly and communicate freely. On the other hand, introverts like quiet concentration, dislike sweeping statements, work long hours on one projects and restrict communication (Vicky et. al, 1999). Extroverts are mentally strong (Leonard et. al, 1997). They are socially acceptable and efficient than introverts (Allerton, 1997). The extroverts accept technical challenges very fast and have a good capacity to interact with the people of outside (Melymuka, 2004).

In short, the extroverts are found more decisive and more open to the outside world. This often results in taking decisions in terms of more reality than imaginative. This conclusion can lead to the formulation of a hypothesis for further discussion.

Hypothesis

H1: Executives with extrovert orientation towards outer world can have good judging capacity in decision-making than introverts.

The ANOVA test reveals that the judging capacity in decision-making is significantly related to extroverts and not significant to introverts (table V). The P value is less than the significant value at .05 (.011< .05) in the case of extroverts and it is greater than in the case of introverts (.221>.05). This means that extroverts are good decision makers in their field. This is also confirmed in literature that the extroverts take immediate decisions while introverts continue to process their information (Barr et. al, 1989)

A model is framed to establish the link between judging, decision and extroverts' orientation towards the outside world (figure V).

[FIGURE V OMITTED]

As the model proceeds towards the process of decision-making of extroverts as a result of interactions from the outside world, an important question that arises is with respect to the principal type of decision-making (Jill, 2005). Jill proved that there are three types of decisions outcomes, which are decision quality, decisiveness and perceived effectiveness. However, this study has not evaluated these aspects due to insufficient data.

Implications

Implications of this study in the IT sector are wide. The results of the study indicate that the dominant personality indicators of executives in the sector are basically extroverts, which is related to their judging capacity. Earlier studies have not concentrated much on this aspect of relationship. As competition is getting momentum in the IT industry decision making based on accurate judgment is very important.

Comprehensive skill development of executives through decision-making is crucial to sustain competition. It can be shaped and reshaped by giving more opportunities to the executives through exposure to the outside world. Facilitating such interactions are very crucial while preparing competition strategies. However while implementing such strategies the nature of the organisation also must be taken into consideration.

Conclusion

In short, the role of extroverts is related to two components such as judging and taking decisions. Extroverts never postpone their decisions as is in the case of introverts. Their understanding about the outside world mostly influences judging capacity of them. The accuracy of decision making of extroverts is based on their interaction towards outside world. In this context it is suggested to examine the triangular relationship of judging--decision--exposure to the outside world of extroverts.

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Dr. N. Rajagopal

Associate Professor,

SCMS School of Technology and

Management, Kochi, Kerala.
Box I: Summary of Psychological type Operationalised by
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Index              Dimensions      Descriptions

Orientation to     Extrovert and   Whether the individual draws
the outer world    Introvert       energy from the outer world of
                   (E & I)         people and things (E) or the
                                   inner world of thoughts and
                                   concepts (I)?

Perceptual         Sensing and     Whether the individual prefers
Process            intuiting       becoming aware of things
                   (S & I)         through facts gained from the
                                   senses (S) or through
                                   intuiting possibilities
                                   and relationships (N)?

Judgment           Thinking and    Whether the individual prefers
Process            Feeling         to make logical, cause and
                   (T & F)         effect connections (T) or
                                   emphasizes the values and
                                   merits of issues (F)?

Principal          Judging and     J points to the judgment
Process            Perceiving      process and indicates a
                   (J & P)         preference for forming
                                   judgments and coming to
                                   closure. P points to the
                                   perceptual process indicates a
                                   preference to postpone
                                   judgment and continue to
                                   gather or process information.

Source: www.myersbriggs.org


Table I: Combinations of
Personality type

      E              I
      S             iN
      T              F
      J              P

Table II: Distribution of Myers-Briggs
Type Indicator (MBTI within the Sample Size)

ISTJ(86.63)    ISFJ(83.13)    INFJ(79.7S)       INTJ(80.2S)
ISTP(80.2S)    ISFP(79.7S)    INFP(76.38)       INTP(76.88)
ESTP(87.75)    ESFP(87.25)    ENFP(83.88)       ENTP(83.38)
ESTJ(91.13)    ESFJ(90.63)    ENFJ(87.2S)       ENTJ(87.7S)

Table III: Ranking of Type of Personality Indicators

Levels            Personality Indicators

High                    ESTJ, ESFJ
                      (Mean =90.88%)

Medium     ENFJ, END, ESTP, ESFP, ENFP, ENTP, ISTP
                      (Mean = 84.752%)

Low                ISFP, INFP, INTP,INFJ
                      (Mean = 78.19%)

Table IV: Correlation

Pearson        Perceiving      Judging      Extrovert    Feelling
Correlation

Perceiving     1.000           -.041        -.047        .058
Judging        -.041           1.000         .175 *      .053
Extrovert      -.047            .175 *      1.000        .123
Feeling         .058            .053         .123       1.000
Introvert       .178 *         -.118        -.003        .034
iNtuitive       .197 **         .090         .141 *     -.009
Sensing         .094            .115        -.012       -.019
Thingking       .091           -.059         .012       -.040

Pearson        Introvert       iNtuitive    Sensing      Thinking
Correlation

Perceiving     .178 *         -.197 **       .094         .091
Judging       -.118            .090          .115        -.059
Extrovert     -.003            .141 *       -.012         .012
Feeling        .034           -.009         -.019        -.040
Introvert     1.000            .065         -.009         .099
iNtuitive      .065           1.000          .169 *      -.024
Sensing       -.009            .169         1.000         .076
Thingking      .099           -.024          .076        1.000

* Correlation is significant at the .005 level (2-tailed)

** Correlation is significant at the .001 level (2-tailed)

Table V: Anova

                     Sum of                  Mean
                     Squares       df        uare
Extrovert  Between
           Groups     2.261          2      1.132
           Within
           Groups    48.611        197       .247
           Total     50.875        199

Introvert  Between
           Groups      .562          2       .281
           Within
           Groups    38.313        197       .184
           Total     36.875        199

                     F             Sig.
Extrovert  Between
           Groups    4.588         .011
           Within
           Groups
           Total

Introvert  Between
           Groups    1.523         .221
           Within
           Groups
           Total

Meaning of Combination of Personality Indicators

ISTJ     Quiet, serious, earn success by thoroughness and
         dependability. Practical, matter-of-fact, realistic, and
         responsible. Decide logically what should be done and work
         toward it steadily, regardless of distractions. Take
         pleasure in making everything orderly and organized--their
         work, their home, their life. Value traditions and
         loyalty.

ISFJ     Quiet, friendly, responsible, and conscientious. Committed
         and steady in meeting their obligations. Thorough,
         painstaking, and accurate. Loyal, considerate, notice and
         remember specifics about people who are important to them,
         concerned with how others feel. Strive to create an orderly
         and harmonious environment at work and at home.

INFJ     Seek meaning and connection in ideas, relationships, and
         material possessions. Want to understand what motivates
         people and are insightful about others. Conscientious and
         committed to their firm values. Develop a clear vision
         about how best to serve the common good. Organized and
         decisive in implementing their vision.

INTJ     Have original minds and great drive for implementing their
         ideas and achieving their goals. Quickly see patterns in
         external events and develop long-range explanatory
         perspectives. When committed, organize a job and carry
         it through. Skeptical and independent, have high
         standards of competence and performance.

ISTP     Tolerant and flexible, quiet observers until a problem
         appears, then act quickly to find workable solutions.
         Analyze what makes things work and readily get through
         large amounts of data to isolate the core of practical
         problems. Interested in cause and effect, organize facts
         using logical principles, value efficiency.

ISFP     Quiet, friendly, sensitive, and kind. Enjoy the present
         moment, what's going on around them. Like to have their
         own space and to work within their own time frame. Loyal
         and committed to their values and to people who
         are important to them. Dislike disagreements and
         conflicts, do not force their opinions or values
         on others.

INFP     Idealistic, loyal to their values and to people who are
         important to them. Want an external life that is congruent
         with their values. Curious, quick to see possibilities, can
         be catalysts for implementing ideas. Seek to understand
         people and to help them fulfill their potential.
         Adaptable, flexible, and accepting unless a value is
         threatened.

INTP     Seek to develop logical explanations for everything that
         interests them. Theoretical and abstract, interested more
         in ideas than in social interaction. Quiet, contained,
         flexible, and adaptable. Have unusual ability to focus in
         depth to solve problems in their area of interest.
         Skeptical, sometimes critical, always analytical.

ESTP     Flexible and tolerant, they take a pragmatic approach
         focused immediate results. Theories and conceptual
         explanations bore them--they want to act energetically to
         solve the problem. Focus on the here-and-now, spontaneous,
         enjoy each moment that they can be active with others.
         Enjoy material comforts and style. Learn best through
         doing.

ESFP     Outgoing, friendly, and accepting. Exuberant lovers of
         life, people, and material comforts. Enjoy working with
         others to make things happen. Bring common sense and a
         realistic approach to their work, and make work fun.
         Flexible and spontaneous, adapt readily to new people and
         environments. Learn best by trying a new skill with other
         people.

ENFP     Warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. See life as full of
         possibilities. Make connections between events and
         information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on
         the patterns they see. Want a lot of affirmation from
         others, and readily give appreciation and support.
         Spontaneous and flexible, often rely on their ability to
         improvise and their verbal fluency.

ENTP     Quick, ingenious, stimulating, alert, and outspoken.
         Resourceful in solving new and challenging problems. Adept
         at generating conceptual possibilities and then analyzing
         them strategically. Good at reading other people. Bored by
         routine, will seldom do the same thing the same way, apt
         to turn to one new interest after another.

ESTJ     Practical, realistic, matter-of-fact. Decisive, quickly
         move to implement decisions. Organize projects and people
         to get things done, focus on getting results in the most
         efficient way possible. Take care of routine details.
         Have a clear set of logical standards, systematically
         follow them and want others to also. Forceful in
         implementing their plans.

ESFJ     Warmhearted, conscientious, and cooperative. Want harmony
         in their environment, work with determination to establish
         it. Like to work with others to complete tasks accurately
         and on time. Loyal, follow through even in small matters.
         Notice what others need in their day-by-day lives and try
         to provide it. Want to be appreciated for who they are and
         for what they contribute.

ENFJ     Warm, empathetic, responsive, and responsible. Highly
         attuned to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others.
         Find potential in everyone, want to help others fulfill
         their potential. May act as catalysts for individual
         and group growth. Loyal, responsive to praise and
         criticism. Sociable, facilitate others in a group, and
         provide inspiring leadership.

ENTJ     Frank, decisive, assumes leadership readily. Quickly see
         illogical and inefficient procedures and policies, develop
         and implement comprehensive systems to solve organizational
         problems. Enjoy long-term planning and goal setting.
         Usually well informed, well read, enjoy expanding
         their knowledge and passing it on to others. Forceful in
         presenting their ideas.

Source: www.myersbriggs.org
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