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The Decision Style Inventory : O.D.

by James D. Boulgarides Introduction This article reports the use of the Decision Style Inventory (DSI) [1] in two different organisational development contexts. The first was at the organisational level, while the second was at the individual level. The results demonstrate the flexibility of the DSI as an organisational and personal development tool. The two O.D. interventions are identified as Case 1 and Case 2. Decision Styles Decision styles, as used here, describe the manner in which an individual makes decisions, reacts to problems, handles information, and interacts with others. The early work in the field dealt principally with such aspects of decision making as information handling or problem solving. A number of approaches dealt only with leadership and interpersonal relations. The Decision Style Inventory used in this study incorporates both information handling and leadership. The decision style model shown in Figure 1 is based on how people think and what is important to them. Early research in cognitive psychology examined an individual's ability to extract a number of dimensions from data or examined the individual's ability to utilise varying constructs to evaluate information. Thus individuals were found to have either a need for structure or a high tolerance for ambiguity, which is used as one dimension of the model. The second dimension of the model incorporates research in the field of leadership. This includes the leader's concern for people contrasted with how they feel regarding the work to be done. Putting the above two dimensions together, we derive four basic decision styles. These are: *Directive Style: This style covers those individuals who enjoy directing others and are very concerned with the work to be done. *Analytic Style: This style characterises those individuals who are very logical, are good problem solvers, and think abstractly. *Conceptual Style: This style covers those who are broad thinkers, are creative, and enjoy art or music. *Behavioural Style: This style includes those who are very concerned about others and are supportive. Another way of looking at decision styles is to consider whether people are predominantly left- or right-brain oriented. The left hemisphere of the brain deals with our ability to think logically and to be verbal. The right hemisphere is primarily used for global thinking and covers the emotional and artistic aspects of decision making. The four styles shown above are consistent with the left/right brain description. The relationship of decision style to left/right brain can be readily seen in Figure 1. The Directive and Analytic styles together constitute the left brain, while the Behavioural and Conceptual represent the right brain functions. 17
Directive Analytic Conceptual Behavioural

Case 1 - Organisational Assessment Case 1 is a high technology company in a rapid growth cycle. As a result of the growth, there were many new supervisory appointments. The DSI was applied at two levels of the engineering department, the executive and manager levels. The sample sizes were all male executives (N=9) and managers (N=18). The time frame for the OD intervention was from November 1982 to January 1983. The decision styles of the two groups are shown below.
Comparison Executives to Managers + 11 -11 + 3 - 3 0

Executives N=9 83 83 82 52 300

Managers N=18 72 94 79 55 300

Comparing the two groups, we note that the executive group is more Directive (+11) while the manager group is more Analytic (+11). The groups are very close in Conceptual and Behavioural. The Directive bias of the executives indicates they are more concerned with output, while the managers are more concerned with technical performance. As far as left-brain, right-brain orientation is concerned, the data for the two groups show that they are the same. Both groups are left-brain which is task-oriented, (Analytic + Directive = 166). As far as top-half, bottom-half orientation is concerned, the managers are slightly more top-half which is thinking oriented, while the executives are more bottom-half which is action oriented.

with a 19 unit difference. impatient and serious individual. While the production control function is very action oriented. "Study of Values" [3]." The signficant correlations between the Allport Values and the Decision Styles are shown in Table 1. There is an eight unit difference in the Conceptual. The time frame was October. et al. The changed emphasis represented a shift from the individual to a team concept. political and religious. Decision Style and Values An individual's personal value system determines how that individual will behave. a change in focus from internal to external events. The Production Control manager is also highly Analytic (103). but the most significant difference is in Behavioural. but not as Directive as the General Manager. almost identical in that respect with the General Manager. results and power. The Analytic is positively correlated with Theoretic value which relates to theory and problem solving. The Allport system of values measures the relative strength of six values. A description of these six values is contained in the Appendix. The Directive is positively correlated with Economic and Political values which represent materialism. permanent and stable in nature. 1982. It is interesting to compare the Production Control manager with the predecessor Marketing manager. The lateral transfer involved the appointment of the Production Control manager to the position of Marketing manager. The behaviour which produces the desired results in production control would be inappropriate in the marketing function. Case 2 . It is helpful to analyse the decision styles of the General Manager and the Production Control manager at the time of the transfer.An interesting comparison with a sample of 259 women architects. Also left-brain task oriented.. The Analytic is also negatively correlated with Economic and 18 The General Manager is highly Directive (108) and Analytic (105). impatient . The resulting improved performance was very impressive. The Production Control manager is a very ambitious. within six units. A very results oriented. The values of women architects were measured using the Allport. demanding. It is very interesting to note that the managers and women architects have identical scores for the Analytic and Behavioural. The Analytic and Directive scores are close. or taskorientation. The changes included a shift from individual management responsiblity to group responsibility for performance. During the period from 1979 the general manager of the division had made a number of structural changes. theoretic. the marketing function is less well-defined. fast-paced and focused. England (4) has provied the following description of a value system: "A personal value system is viewed as a relatively permanent perceptual framework which shapes and influences the general nature of an individual's behaviour. a very strong left-brain. individual. more ambitious and longer term in perspective. The Directive individual is thus results and task oriented. For that reason. shows a strong similarity to the managers. economic. Boulgarides [2]. social. The marketing function is more customer service oriented and Behavioural is an important characteristic. hard working. (129 compared to 118).Organisational Change Case 2 involved a lateral transfer within a speciality manufacturing firm which was in a declining. aesthetic. The predecessor Marketing Manager is more right-brain than the Production Control manager. The women architects are slightly more Conceptual (+6) than the managers. The Directive is also negatively correlated with Aesthetic and Religious values which include artistic sensitivity and spiritual values. Discussion of the Decision Style scores with the newly appointed Marketing Manager in terms of the functional responsibility of marketing compared to production control lead to some significant behavioural changes which were described by both the new Marketing manager and the General Manager as an opening-up. highly competitive market. Values are similar to attitudes but are more ingrained. values of individuals have been studied over a long period of time.

That is. California State University. who wish above all else for personal power. His chief aim in life is to order and systemise his knowledge. 5151 State University Drive.029 -. The question merits further study. he is necessarily an intellectualist.001 -. frequently a scientist or philosopher. Social values. The Behavioural is also negatively correlated with Theoretic and Political values.. critical.0991 . In the second setting of a lateral transfer. Economic . California 90032.007 + .1551 ..002 -.1953 . or fitness. USA.2462 .001 sense. the high Directive. His experience covers many years in business. The correlations between the Decision Style Inventory and the Allport Values further strengthen confidence in the Decision Style Inventory. This may be explained by the high Aesthetic score of the women architects. There are certain personalities in whom the desire for a direct expression of power is uppermost.0920 . the Decision Style Inventory served as a personal development tool..073 +.. Boulgarides is a registered professional engineer in the State of California..1063 . .. The one anomaly between the Allport Values and the Decision Style Model is in the Conceptual-Aesthetic which showed a negative correlation. The social man prizes other persons as ends. no person is fully explained by any one type. Dr.0995 .1793 . management objectives.046 -. The Behavioural individual is people oriented.Table 1 : Significant Correlations .. Each single experience is judged from the standpoint of grace. In one 19 . and aesthetic values cold and inhuman.1759 .The highest value for this type is love of people. The primary finding is that the upper level is more Directive while the lower level is more Analytic. Dr. education and government.059 +. This is consistent with the primary responsibilities of the respective levels. the Decision Styles of the new Marketing manager were not compatible with the new job requirements. the marketing function is more right-brain and people-oriented. artistic or socially concerned. One of the reasons stated by the General Manager for the transfer was to "broaden" the individual who had been effective as Production Control manager..001 -. The Marketing manager then proceeded to change his work behaviour.. The Behavioural is positively correlated with Social and Religious values which means socially concerned.2768 . The results may also be indicative of the characteristics which result in promotion to higher levels in an engineering organisation.2045 . Aesthetic and Social values.The political man is interested primarily in power.. Conclusions The utility of the Decision Style Inventory as a diagnostic and personal development tool has been demonstrated in two different settings. Boulgarides is currently Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies.2101 . The Conceptual is negatively correlated with Economic..1200 . which indicates lack of interest in abstract issues or in having power over others.003 -. the six areas represent "ideal types". The Conceptual is the creative thinker. symmetry. The correlations between the Allport Values and the Decision Styles support the Decision Style Model concept. The match. each single impression is enjoyed for its own sake.The highest value of the religious man may be called unity. or "fit" between the Decision Style Model and the Allport Values is shown in Figure 2. Appendix : Description of Allport Values Theoretical . Religious . leadership and team building..The dominant interest of the theoretical man is the discovery of truth. He is likely to find the theoretical. A person does not belong exclusively to one or the other of these types of values.. Aesthetic . In the study of women architects the predicted correlations between the two instruments do occur in five out of six cases. He is a management consultant in the areas of creativity.Allport Values and Decision Styles. The Analytic is thus a theoretical individual not too concerned with results or with social issues.001 -. economic. Social . sympathetic and unselfish. The first setting was a vertical comparison of two different levels in an engineering organisation.. He is mystical.The aesthetic man sees his highest value in form and harmony..2995 . the high Directive characteristic may be counterproductive in terms of the negative effect on organisational creativity. He regards life as a procession of events. and rational.Since the interests of the theoretical man are empirical. not always practical.001 -. and seeks to comprehend the cosmos as a whole. While the production control function is very left-brain and task oriented. influence and renown. Women Architects (N=259) Decision Styles Allport Values Theoretic Economic Aesthetic Social Political Religious +. He has served as Mayor of Culver City and chairman of its Redevelopment Agency. In this instance. and is therefore himself kind.The economic man is characteristically interested in what is useful. to relate himself to its embracing totality. This type is thoroughly "practical" and conforms well to the prevailing stereotype of the average American businessman..058 Directive Analytic Conceptual Behavioural +. Leaders in any field generally have high power value. Los Angeles..001 -. Political .. the Marketing manager recognised the differences in job requirements between the two assignments of production control and marketing. Los Angeles. Having validated his own scores. caring and spiritually inclined.

A Perspective". 1984 (forthcoming). Equal Opportunities International... and Lindzey.D. 1960. March 1983.W. 2.References 1.W.G. Santa Barbara. 3. 1967. 3rd ed. A.. 10. G.. England. Study of Values.. Houghton Mifflin.J. 4.D. J. "A Profile of Women Architects in the United States". "Personal Value Systems of American Managers". Boulgarides.. J. P. "Decision Styles. California. Vernon. paper presented at the Western Academy of Management meeting.. 20 . 3(2). G. Boston. Academy of Management Journal. and Boulgarides. Rowe. 53-68.. pp.E. Allport.