Personality in OB: Characteristics, Determinants, Attributes Influencing, International Values, Application

Concept and Meaning of Personality in Organizational Behavior (OB)

Every individual is unique in some ways in terms of pattern of traits and characteristics. "This pattern of traits tends to be stable over time". The unique and relatively stable pattern of behavior of individual which make different from other is termed as personality. Personality is reflected in thought, emotions and action as they are found same every time.

Personality is the factor which logically defines and helps to recognize the individual from others. The word personality is derived from Latin words "Per Sona" which means to speak through. In prior days these words were used to explain the masks worn by actors in ancient Greece and Rome. Based upon this fact, personality in many extents is explained in terms of charming, well dressed and attractiveness. In this thus, a key factor in understanding and predicting individual behavior in group work place and organization. Personality shapes behavior of individual in group, work place and organization. Personality shapes behavior of individual and hence it is concerned with growth and development of the person. It is the total sum of ways in which an individual reacts to and interacts with person. In other words, personality is composed of external appearance and traits, inner awareness of self, person situation interaction. Therefore, personality affects in the work setting, group productivity and organizational culture. Managers need to measure and estimate their behavior in organization and treat accordingly.

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Personality is shaped with biological factors i.e. nature and nurture. Nurture is the natural treatment from work-setting, environmental situation and socio-cultural factors. Personality is dynamic in nature as the above mentioned factors. Reinforcement of such factors helps to shape the personality of individuals.

Characteristics of Personality in OB

Personality is the total sum of traits defining the characteristics of individual. It represents the enduring behavior of person. Personality has the following characteristics.

1. Unique set

Personality refer the unique set of characteristics of individual. It is different from one personal to other.

2. Relatively stable

Personality is relatively stable as it is found almost same look, interaction or behave throughout the period.

3. Whole person

Personality is composed with physical as well as mental qualities. It is the concept of complete i.e. whole individual defining total concept.

4. Describing person

Personality is concerned with factors within people that causes to behave to do. It explains the structure of person. It expresses the ways of reacting and interacting with others.

5. Situation specific

Personality is situation specific as it can be varied with environmental settings. It is concerned with person-situation interaction.

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6. Partially inherited

Personality is partially inherited and is partially shaped with environment. This can be developed with interacting, with environment i.e. experience of individual.

7. Goal oriented

Personality is goal oriented behavior. People react or interact in order to satisfy their goals.

Determinants of Personality in OB

Personality is the factor which differentiates one individual from others. It is thus, important to identify the factors forming personality of an individual so that they can be treated according to organizational set-up. Many scholars, managers and social scientists, psychologists, from very beginning, started searching the answer of the question about 'what determines the personality?' Many psychologists argued that the personality is shaped by heredity with birth i.e. it is biological factor ('nature' argument) while some other argued that it is shaped with external factors like social setting, experience, situational factors, etc. ('nurture' argument). . Determinants of personality can thus, be summarized as below:

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1.The Nature Factors

There is a strong arguments that individual governs personality with its conception i.e. heredity. It is the genetic background of a person inherited from parents. Personality or characteristics of parents are transferred through chromosomes containing genes during conception. Researchers have found that about 50 percent of personality traits are genetically inherited. Some biological, physical and psychological natures are formed through the heredity factor.

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Biological feature i.e. gender of individual and biological rhythms are predetermined through genes. X and Y Chromosomes transferred from father sets the gender as male or female. Similarly, physical stature, facial attractiveness, temperament, muscle composition, reflexes and energy level of individual are largely determined with heredity. In animal, researchers have set many evidences for psychological transmission from parents to generations but the evidences are less in case of human being. Thus, heredity as nature determines the personality of individual and sets the limits for personality development of individual.

2. The Nurture Factors

Nurture factors are situational and socio-cultural factors. Psychologists or scholars who believe in this ground argue that personality is developed with the natural and socio-cultural interaction. Situation is the greatest teacher in shaping the personality. Identification process and socialization process of individual greatly affect to shape the personality of individual.

3. Cultural Factors

Culture is the most influential factor determining the personality of the person. Cultural values and practices are easily learnt by individual. Person observes and practices the cultural values, beliefs and norms transmitted and being practiced by their seniors, family members, relatives and society members. This gives almost permanent experience to individual and hence set the values, beliefs and norms as guidelines of life which ultimately sets the personality. These personality traits are more permanent and reflected in the work environment. Thus, managers are more permanent and reflected in the work environment. Thus, managers are more interested to study the culture of individual before making hiring decisions. For instances, Japanese people are encouraged to work in team as they have the strong family culture, they respect to each individual in the organization, encourage cooperation and mutual trust. But, American people wish to work individually, are more aggressive and believe in individual competition. These behaviors are the results of personality govern by culture.

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4. Social Factors

Family is the first proximate society for individual. Person learns many things from social settings. Family gives the identification of individual. Family members especially parents of same gender become the role model to children i.e. boy to father and girl to mother. They learn personalty characteristics from parents. Learning of mutual respect, trust, belief, etc. from social setting strongly influences the personality of individual.

5. Situational Factors

As it is mentioned earlier, individual develops personality with interacting to situation. Individual learns to change response with situational changes. This tends to form different personality at different situations as situational variables provide push and pull forces. Situational constraints force the individual to set personality differently. This means individual sets different personality in different situations. For instances, different people who do not wish to work in front line may perform outstanding to save life of people during accidents. Likewise, shy people in the organization may even actively work in protecting organization. These are changed personalities according to situational demand.

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Major Personality Attributes Influencing OB

1. Core self-evaluation

People who have possible core self-evaluation tend to evaluate themselves more effective, capable, competent and worthy among other. They trust themselves. But, people with low core self-evaluation tend to be themselves as less capable, low competent and less important in organization. Core self-evaluation trust on them and tend to involve in challenging jobs and they attain them.

2. Machiavellianism (Mach)

It is the personality dimension measuring the degree to which an individual is pragmatic, maintains emotional distance, and believes that end can justify means. An individual high in Machiavellianism is pragmatic, maintains emotional distance, etc.

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3. Narcissism

Narcissism is the tendency of an individual thinking self importance. Such persons are arrogant, require excessive admiration, and have a sense of entitlement. Such people are found to be more charismatic and hence more likely to emerge as leaders. But, many studies concluded that narcissism is undesirable. Narcissists often want to have admiration from others for their jobs and superiority. "Narcissists also tend to be selfish and exploitive and believe others exist for their benefit".

4. Self-Monitoring

This trait of personality is the measure of extent to which an individual adjust his or her behavior to external situational factors. Person with high self-monitoring tend to be adaptable in adjusting their behavior to external situational factors at considerable level. Such people change themselves as per the situational demand i.e. show different behavior at different situation. Such persons pay close attention to the behavior of others and they conform their future action. Person with high self-monitoring tend to be more mobile in their career, receive more promotions and occupy central positions in organization. But, people with low self-monitoring fail to do so. They try to display their true dispositions and attitude in every situation whatever that can be unpleasant. They show high behavioral consistency.

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5. Risk Taking

This trait of personality is the measure of extent to which an individual accepts the calculated risk in making business decisions. This trait makes people different in their willingness to take chances as high risk taker and low risk taker. High risk taking managers use less information and time to make business decisions while low risk taking managers use more information and take more time to come to the conclusion. 

6. Proactive

Proactive personality is the tendency of initiating the change in an advance. They tend to be change agent in the status quo. Such people imagine the future and make strategy or action plan to overcome such future activities. People with proactive personality identify the opportunity within current environmental setting, show initiative in an advance, take action and continue the action. They do not like to wait for action to give reaction.

International Values of OB

In recent research across 598 studies with more than 200,000 respondents has investigated the relationship of culture values and a variety of organizational criteria at both the individual and national level of analysis. Overall, the four original culture dimensions were equally strong predictors of relevant outcomes. From the research, in comparison to personality scores, cultural values are found to have strong relationship with organizational commitment, citizenship behavior, and team-related attitudes. But, personality was related more strongly with performance, absenteeism, and turnover.  Such findings suggest manager that they have to pay more effort to match the culture of employees with national culture.

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Geert Hofstede (late 1970) conducted a survey in employees of IBM over 40 countries about their work-related values. He founded five value dimensions of national culture (Indulgence verses restraint is added recently) which provide the basis for difference in between manager and employees.

1. Power Distance

This is the extent to which individual of different countries accept unequal distribution of decision making power. High rating on power distance means people accept the greater inequality in power. High rating on power distance means people accept the greater inequality in power distribution as a culture. Low rating in power distance indicates the possibility of stress because of unequal distribution of power.

2. Individualism versus collectivism

Individualism is the culture of doing work individually rather than a member of group. Whether, collectivism indicates the extent of doing work in team rather than with individual effort. Japanese people accept in collectivism culture whereas American people believe in individualism. This affects on workplace activities.

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3. Masculinity versus Femininity

Masculinity is the extent to which the culture favors on traditional masculine roles such as power and control, viewing men supreme in comparison to women, acknowledgement of achievement to men, etc. Femininity is the culture of reducing the gender differences in power and role division. 

4. Uncertainty avoidance

This is a degree to which people prefer structured situation or unstructured situation in business. People with low avoidance on uncertainty prefer more accepting of ambiguity, are less rule oriented, take more risks, and more readily accept change.

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5. Long-term versus short-term orientation

This is the degree to which people focus on time frame to make decision. Long-term orientation is the culture in which long future is considered while in short-term orientation, only current performance or achievement is focused.

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6. Indulgence versus restraint

This is the extent of freedom to live the life of people. Indulgence is the degree to which it is alright (no care) for people to enjoy life, have fun, and fulfill natural human desire. Restraint is the degree to which social norms and values restrict and guide the living style and behavior. 

Application of Personality Traits and Characteristics at Work Place

Personality traits and characteristics are most important in organization. As discussed above in many cases, personality traits and characteristics have strong relationship to job satisfaction, organizational commitment, citizenship behavior, turnover, performance, etc. Research works in recent  years are promising as they are establishing some concrete findings relating personality traits and work place behaviors. Following findings are summarized regarding personality traits and values relating with work place behavior:

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  • Organization wish to select high conscientious people. But, at the same time, situation factors also affect the personality of person. Managers, thus need to consider the situational factors as well while hiring employees. 
  • Personality job performance relationship can be affected with situational variable like job demands, interpersonal interaction required, organizational culture, etc. Thus, managers need to consider these moderating variables in work place. Performance in the work place does not rely only on personality. 
  • Personality of individual should fit with team, job and organizational culture. Thus, while selecting employees for the organization, managers must be careful for matching personality traits and organizational culture as well person-team work fit possibility. 
  • Positive self-evaluation is positively related with job performance. Such persons believe on their capability competency and value to accomplish any job. Managers should select the person having positive self evaluation and motivate them. 
  • Despite some advantages of narcissism, it is not desirable in the organization because they demand self-importance. They may reduce the team effort as they think they are leaders. Managers need to identity such employees and manage at right time. 
  • Self-monitoring personality is another important personality trait which measures the extent of individual's ability to adjust behavior to external, situational factors. This affect on creativity and performance. 
  • Proactive personality is most desirable in the organization. They tend change the status quo in the organization. They select, create and influence work situation in their favor. They engage in career planning, demonstrate persistent performance and face obstacle in goal accomplishment. Such persons can be more effective in new and challenging projects. 
  • It is important to understand to know the individual's value. This often underlies and explains the attitudes, behaviors and perception. 
  • If the values of employees fit with organizational culture, their job satisfaction will increased and hence the performance will also be increased. 
  • Managers can select the employees who may have low ability, competence, and motivation but fit in organizational culture. 

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