The Handbook of Research on Top Management Teams
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The Handbook of Research on Top Management Teams

Edited by Mason A. Carpenter

This Handbook presents original research and theory on executives, top management teams, and boards of directors and illustrates the vital importance of this field of study.
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Chapter 4: The Personality Profile of US Top Executives

Andrew Sangster


Andrew Sangster Scant research has been done on the personality profiles of top management: that is, the head of a business unit and his or her direct reports (Van Eynde and Tucker, 1996; Halikias and Panayotopoulou, 2003). If members of top management have an asymmetrically large effect on firm outcomes, and if behavior is a function of an individual’s enduring dispositions (i.e., his or her personality), it becomes particularly important to understand the ways in which these individuals differ from the adult norm (if, in fact, they do), and whether, and in what way, they differ among themselves. This study attempts to correct some of this deficiency in the literature by focusing specifically on the personality profiles of top management. There is, of course, a plethora of studies on personality, both normal (Allport and Odbert, 1936; Goldberg, 1981; Costa and McCrae, 1990) and abnormal (Hathaway and McKinley, 1951; Butcher and Spielberger, 1995; DSM-IV-TR, 2000). There are numerous studies of the population as a whole, studies contrasting US personality norms with those of other countries (McCrae and Costa, 1997b; Salgado, 1997), and studies of various subpopulations by occupation (Furnham and Stringfield, 1993; Gailbreath et al., 1997; Judge et al., 1999), and various other demographics (Collins and Gleaves, 1998). There are, not surprisingly, a number of studies on the personalities of managers in general (O’Connor et al., 1992; Gardner and Martinko, 1996; Carr, 2006), and of entrepreneurs (Fraboni and Saltstone, 1990; Malach-Pines et al., 2002; Zhao and Seibert, 2006). But management at...

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