The psychological representation of corporate ‘personality’

Download The psychological representation of corporate ‘personality’

Post on 06-Jun-2016




1 download

Embed Size (px)


<ul><li><p>The Psychological Representation of Corpo</p><p>RY</p><p>s aloandse pubn factime</p><p>substlly grgan</p><p>are sometimes viewed as representationally significant</p><p>(Gelman, 1988; Murphy, 2002; Sloman &amp; Malt, 2003).</p><p>meth</p><p>sions</p><p>repre</p><p>subs</p><p>relat</p><p>pote</p><p>wou</p><p>workable model of the dimensions of what we term corporate</p><p>methods to provide a new and unified approach.</p><p>psychometric method. Here scales are developed for capturing</p><p>differences. Underlying factors are extracted which link</p><p>e is</p><p>lity</p><p>ces</p><p>erg,</p><p>ted</p><p>and</p><p>and</p><p>Highhouse (2003) take a related approach in the evaluation of</p><p>personality, analogous to human personality. However, Aaker</p><p>Applied Cognitive Psychology, Appl. Cognit. Psychol. 25: 605614 (2011)Published online 22 June 2010 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelib*Correspondence to: Philipp E. Otto, Europa-Universitat Viadrina, Grobe(1997) who formalizes the specific dimensions for brand</p><p>personality and Slaughter, Zicker, Highhouse, and Mohrpersonality, which proposes a taxonomy of companies</p><p>based on their public perception. To tackle this question, we</p><p>derive an evaluation process for measuring generally</p><p>perceived company differences, which combines existing</p><p>organizational attractiveness. When describing an organiz-</p><p>ation, similar descriptors are used as when describing</p><p>categories like friends or strangers. Thus, it appears that</p><p>people may represent organizations as having a corporateScharE-ma</p><p>Copye focus in this work is how well existing research</p><p>ods developed for uncovering psychological dimen-</p><p>can be transferred to understanding how people</p><p>sent companies. Its public perception may be a</p><p>tantial factor within a company and for its outside</p><p>ions, guiding consumer purchasing decisions as well as</p><p>ntially influencing investors decision making. Thus, it</p><p>ld be of considerable practical interest to have a</p><p>directly or indirectly to featural differences, but either</p><p>explain variations in observed behaviour. This perspectiv</p><p>common in personality research where different persona</p><p>dimensions are used to explain individual differen</p><p>(compare Cattell, 1965; Eysenck &amp; Eysenck, 1985; Goldb</p><p>1993). Prior research in brand perception has documen</p><p>interesting parallels between the perception of people</p><p>the perception of brands (i.e. Epstein, 1977). LievensTh wayPHILIPP E. OTTO1*, NICK CHATER2 and HEN1European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany2University College London, London, UK3Decision Technology, London, UK</p><p>Summary: As with any other object, people represent companiedimensions that best describe companies, organizations, or brattitudes, including attitudes to other people, to look at how ththat psychologically differentiate companies resemble humaInnovation, and Power. These dimensions are confirmed after aindividual companies. The proposed methodology not only hastrack their public perception, but scales of this type can potentiainside and outside rated organizations, thus influencing their o</p><p>In the continuous interaction with our environment, we need</p><p>not only to be able to quickly perceive new information but</p><p>also have to rely on existing information as a benchmark.</p><p>Behaviour always takes place under a specific frame or is</p><p>embedded in context, and evaluations are always in relation</p><p>to similar objects of the respective class of objects. But is</p><p>there a general mechanism which describes this formation</p><p>of differences between perceived objects? Do we apply</p><p>comparable processes in different domains? Kelly (1955)</p><p>proposed the theory of personal constructs for personality</p><p>evaluations, using methods that appear more generally</p><p>applicable. Osgood (1962) developed methods for finding</p><p>semantic dimensions for objects of all kinds. More recently</p><p>computational corpus analysis has been applied to dimen-</p><p>sionalizing semantic materials in a uniform way (Griffiths &amp;</p><p>Steyvers, 2004; Landauer &amp;Dumais, 1997). Moreover, in the</p><p>literature on categorization, it is typically assumed that</p><p>uniform principles guide the representation of diverse</p><p>categories, although certain fundamental distinctions (e.g.</p><p>the distinction between natural kind versus artefact concepts)rnstrabe 59, D-15230 Frankfurt (Oder),</p><p>right # 2010 John Wiley &amp; Sons, Ltd.rate Personality</p><p>STOTT3</p><p>ng a number of dimensions. But what are the key psychological? We apply research methods initially developed for studyinglic represents corporate personality. The major dimensionstors of personality and can be labelled Honesty, Prestige,gap of 1 year, also capturing specific changes in the rating of</p><p>antial commercial value in helping companies understand anduide and manage the decision-making of individuals or groupsizational culture. Copyright# 2010 John Wiley &amp; Sons, Ltd.</p><p>PREVIOUS RESEARCH AND CONCEPTUAL</p><p>BACKGROUND</p><p>Research investigating how people represent complex objects</p><p>can be traced back to Osgood and colleagues, who postulated</p><p>the existence of general psychological dimensions for</p><p>evaluating objects (Osgood, 1962; Osgood, Tannenbaum, &amp;</p><p>Suci, 1957). In their semantic differential approach, lists of</p><p>adjectives were searched for which best capture meaningful</p><p>differences between items. The claim was made that a</p><p>restricted number of descriptive properties can be sufficient to</p><p>differentiate items within a wide range of categories of objects,</p><p>reaching from colours and shapes to stories and people. More</p><p>recent approaches have applied the semantic differential to a</p><p>range of specific domains, including product categories (Hsu,</p><p>Chuang, &amp; Chuang, 2000; Katz, Aakhus, Kim, &amp; Turner,</p><p>2002; Mondragon, Company, &amp; Vergara, 2005), perceptual</p><p>categories (Ohnishi et al., 1996; Oyama, Yamada, &amp; Iwasawa,</p><p>1998; Tessarolo, 1981) and names (Hartmann, 1985).</p><p>Another evaluation approach for complex objects is the</p><p> DOI: 10.1002/acp.1729(2004) who did the same for organization personality do</p><p>observe differences between human and company personality.</p></li><li><p>the procedure, he introduced an iterative method which is</p><p>606 P. E. Otto et al.content neutral. This keeps the guidance by the actual questions</p><p>asked at a minimum and only builds on formerly given answers,</p><p>without needing any specific material and only providing a</p><p>content free frame. This general method is especially suitable</p><p>for the generation of dimensions people naturally use to</p><p>evaluate objects and can directly be applied for the analysis of</p><p>any concept. The one difference in the case here is that</p><p>the objects of analysis are companies instead of people. The</p><p>selected companies and the derived adjective dimensions of the</p><p>individual concepts are to be included in the later analysis.</p><p>Method</p><p>Six postgraduate students or university staff (three male;</p><p>three female; average age 27) took part in the study and were</p><p>paid 6 ($11) each. The individual RepGrid session lasted</p><p>approximately 60minutes and took place as a one-to-one</p><p>interview. The material consisted of a card for each elicited</p><p>company (element) and an initially blank table intowhich the</p><p>adjectives would be written. The same table was later used</p><p>for the rating of the elicited companies on the different</p><p>derived adjective dimensions.So far these different studies stand next to each other</p><p>without providing integrated insights into human decision</p><p>making. To generate a more general taxonomy of perceived</p><p>company differences, these studies are integrated into a</p><p>single framework. To combine these different approaches</p><p>into one unifying concept of corporate personality, we begin</p><p>with an exploratory study, to establish some of the natural</p><p>dimensions along which people differentiate companies. In</p><p>the light of this pilot study, our first study allows us to</p><p>systematically evaluate these and other adjective dimensions</p><p>for companies, provided by the literature, to get an</p><p>understanding of relative importance of the company</p><p>descriptors. Our second study then uses a subset of</p><p>descriptors, which provided to be important for measuring</p><p>company differences, to position diverse companies on these</p><p>adjective dimensions and to generate the factors of corporate</p><p>personality. Here, relations to different economic charac-</p><p>teristics are highlighted. In the third study, the stability of the</p><p>derived corporate personality factors is tested for a time gap</p><p>of 1 year, also measuring changes in the perception of</p><p>individual companies over this time span.</p><p>PILOT STUDY: EXPLORING COMPANY</p><p>PERCEPTION</p><p>The main aim is to explore, in a relatively open-ended method,</p><p>the natural dimensions which best describe the concept</p><p>company. Later, we want people to rate companies on these</p><p>different adjective dimensions. But first we need a method to</p><p>generate further candidates, which might usefully discriminate</p><p>between companies, to not miss out fundamental descriptors of</p><p>company differences. For this we use an experimental</p><p>technique called Repetory Grid (RepGrid) which was</p><p>introduced by Kelly (1955). RepGrid was first used by Kelly</p><p>for the evaluation of individual personality differences. Tomake</p><p>sure the concept is derived by the participant and not induced byCopyright # 2010 John Wiley &amp; Sons, Ltd.First, each participant had to name nine different well-</p><p>known companies, which were written on cards. This was</p><p>followed by a procedure to derive the adjective dimensions</p><p>for the corresponding objects, which Kelly (1955) called</p><p>triadic elicitation, in which randomly three cards as triples</p><p>of companies were selected by the experimenter. Two of the</p><p>company cards were contrasted here with a third one and the</p><p>participants task was to produce bipolar pairs of adjectives</p><p>that differentiated the third company from the other two.</p><p>These descriptions were always depicted in bipolar dimen-</p><p>sions, where one adjective was describing the two companies</p><p>on the one side and another adjective was describing the</p><p>single company on the other side, presenting opposing</p><p>adjectives like international versus national, large</p><p>versus small, friendly versus unfriendly, etc. These</p><p>comparisons were done repeatedly, so that each company</p><p>was selected once as the single company, resulting in nine</p><p>descriptions for every participant. In a last step all nine</p><p>companies were rated on a scale from 1 to 5 on these derived</p><p>bipolar adjectives, all in line with Kellys (1955) standard</p><p>RepGrid method. The results were analysed according to</p><p>concept homogeneity and inter-individual variability.</p><p>Results</p><p>All participants found it easy to generate bipolar adjectives</p><p>to separate their selected companies. Also the similarity</p><p>between the companies, based on the rating for their elicited</p><p>adjectives, were supported by the participants, as the</p><p>grouping of the clustering results was ad hoc confirmed</p><p>by the participants. An example of a derived solution is given</p><p>in Figure 1. The named companies, the generated dimen-</p><p>sions, and the ratings are shown for this participant. As in the</p><p>case of the other participants, the adjective dimensions group</p><p>into higher level dimensions, shown by the hierarchical</p><p>clustering result which is based on the individual ratings. For</p><p>all different RepGrid solutions see Appendix A.</p><p>Named companies mainly represent large retailers or</p><p>famous brands. They cover supermarkets and banks as well</p><p>as current or potential employers and favourite product</p><p>producers. Participants are similar in what companies they</p><p>select, with the same company picked once by four out of the</p><p>six participants. The frequency with which the selected</p><p>companies co-occur within the sample is Tesco four times,</p><p>Sainsbury and Costcutters three times, and H&amp;M, BT</p><p>and Barclays two times. For comparing companies people</p><p>use similar adjectives, as is apparent from inspection of</p><p>Table 1, where the same adjectives reoccur within a small</p><p>sample of six participants. These qualitative overlaps in</p><p>choice of adjectives used to distinguish companies, broadly</p><p>support the assumption of a naturally agreed concept of</p><p>company differences. Common themes appear to be quality,</p><p>price, general appearance and contact experiences.</p><p>Discussion</p><p>The elicited dimensions for company evaluations have</p><p>overlaps within the sample but also with company</p><p>descriptors developed in previous studies (Table 2). First</p><p>they show commonalities with the concept of brand</p><p>personality (Aaker, 1997) and organization personalityAppl. Cognit. Psychol. 25: 605614 (2011)</p></li><li><p>Corporate personality 607(Slaughter et al., 2004), sharing one and two company</p><p>adjectives respectively; second with Osgoods semantic</p><p>differentials (Heise, 1970; Osgood et al., 1957) sharing four</p><p>company adjectives. In the former a large spectrum is used to</p><p>find the most useful dimensions for companies. The latter</p><p>assumes more general dimensions which apply for different</p><p>Figure 1. RepGrid e</p><p>Table 1. Company differentiation dimensions elicited for the self-selec</p><p>Person 1 Person 2 Person 3</p><p>Common Affordable DominantEnjoyable Close Freedom of actioEssential Durable IdentityHidden importance Formal Internationala</p><p>Needed Luxurious PowerfulNice Qualityb Qualityb</p><p>Prestigious Rare pos. experience SpaciousSecondary Relaxeda High statusSpecific Rigid Typical</p><p>Here only the one side of the dimension is shown. The other pole is its oppositeaOccurs twice.bOccurs three times.</p><p>Table 2. Co-occurrence of named adjectives from different sources</p><p>RepGrid Brand</p><p>Number in totala 48 42Brand 1 Organization 2 9Semantic differential 4 1</p><p>aAll named 54 adjective dimensions resulting from the RepGrid technique were co1997, p. 354) and Organization (Slaughter et al., 2004, p. 89) personality adjectiveOsgoods Semantic Differentials represent his three dimensions Evaluation, Potencyis 118 different company adjectives.</p><p>Copyright # 2010 John Wiley &amp; Sons, Ltd.sorts of objects and which have been labelled Evaluation,</p><p>Potency, and Activity. By letting people derive the</p><p>dimensions for describing differences between companies</p><p>here, a more open-ended yet direct way is chosen to generate</p><p>the important dimensions for differentiating between</p><p>companies. The RepGrid method can be seen as a more</p><p>xample solution</p><p>ted companies</p><p>Person 4 Person 5 Person 6</p><p>Attractive Abstract Adversarialn Cheapa Cheapa Big</p><p>Competitive Educated CompetentDistant Helpfula ConcernedFeminine Influential ExploitativeHelpfula Physical Internationala</p><p>Modern Professional Qualityb</p><p>Regular Trustworthy Socially responsibleRelaxeda Useful Well priced</p><p>(i.e. bigsmall) or its negation (i.e. commonuncommon).</p><p>Organization Semantic differential</p><p>23 239 1 11 </p><p>nsidered of which six were redundant due to double naming. Brand (Aaker,s were taken from the respective studies and their derived descriptive factor., and Activity (Heise, 1970, p. 237). The total number for all sources together</p><p>Appl. Cognit. Psychol. 25: 605614 (2011)</p></li><li><p>were left out.</p><p>Results</p><p>The company ratings were analysed according to the relation</p><p>of inter-company variability to inter-individual variability.</p><p>For this we introduce the measure of Company Differentia-</p><p>bility, which describes how strong a specific adjective</p><p>differentiates between companies, while yielding consistent</p><p>ratings for a single company across the different raters.</p><p>The Company Differen...</p></li></ul>


View more >