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Managing Intuition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 March 2017


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Roundtable On Management Theory After Organization Man: Creativity, Burnout, Intuition, Heterarchy
Copyright © The President and Fellows of Harvard College 2017 

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58 Kimball, John T., “Age of the Intuitive Manager,” Dun's Review and Modern Industry (Jan. 1966): 42 Google Scholar.

59 Ibid.

60 The classic text that credited managerial capitalism with American economic prosperity is Chandler, Alfred D. Jr., The Visible Hand (Cambridge, Mass., 1977)Google Scholar.

61 Kimball, “Age of the Intuitive Manager,” 42.

62 Peters, Tom and Waterman, Robert, In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies (New York, 1982)Google Scholar; Fuller, Buckminster, Intuition (London, 1983)Google Scholar; Rowan, Roy, The Intuitive Manager (Boston, 1986)Google Scholar; Vaughan, Frances, Awakening Intuition (New York, 1979)Google Scholar; Agor, Weston, Intuitive Management (Eaglewood, N.J., 1984)Google Scholar.

63 Intuition's long association as a feminine mode of reasoning was certainly part of the skepticism toward its emotional element.

64 Leavitt, Harold, “Beyond the Analytic Manager,” California Management Review 17, no. 3 (1975): 9 Google Scholar.

65 Jeffrey Mishlove noted seventeen connotations of intuition, ranging from “gut feeling” to extrasensory perception. Mishlove, , “What Is Intuition?” in Intuition at Work, ed. Frantz, Roger and Pattakos, Alex (San Francisco, 1996)Google Scholar.

66 Akinci, Cinla and Sadler-Smith, Eugene, “Intuition in Management Research: A Historical Review,” International Journal of Management Reviews 14, no. 1 (2012): 114 Google Scholar.

67 Peter Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker” to refer to workers who dealt in manipulation of symbols and ideas. Drucker, , Landmarks of Tomorrow (New York, 1959)Google Scholar.

68 One can find variants of these questions in numerous surveys, including the Human Information Processing Survey. Taggart, William and Valenzi, Enzo, “Assessing Rational and Intuitive Styles: A Human Information Processing Metaphor,” Journal of Management Studies 27, no. 2 (1990): 149–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Raudsepp, Eugene, “How Creative Are You?” Personnel Journal 58, no. 4 (1979): 218–19Google Scholar.

69 Jung, Carl, Psychological Types (Princeton, N.J., 1971)Google Scholar.

70 Myers, Isabel Briggs, The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Manual (Palo Alto, Calif., 1962)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Myers, Isabel Briggs, Gifts Differing (Palo Alto, Calif., 1980)Google Scholar.

71 The MBTI from the start faced skepticism from mainstream psychology, including staff psychologists at its first publisher, Education Testing Services (ETS). Myers's dissatisfaction with ETS led her to seek another publisher, Consulting Psychologists Press, in 1975. Saunders, Frances, Katherine and Isabel: Mother's Light, Daughter's Journey (Palo Alto, Calif., 1991)Google Scholar; Stricker, Lawrence and Ross, John, “Intercorrelations and Reliability of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator,” Psychological Reports 12, no. 1 (1963): 287–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

72 Beat poet Kenneth Rexworth gave a colorful, and critical, firsthand account of being studied at IPAR. Rexworth, “My Head Gets Tooken Apart,” The Nation, Dec. 1957.

73 From the beginning, candidates were assessed not just by formal techniques, but also on informal social behavior. According to Henry Murray and Donald MacKinnon's description, “a convivial evening party was held with hard liquor for both candidates and staff. . . . The party which lasted usually long past midnight often revealed aspects of the candidates’ personalities not seen in soberer states.” Murray, and MacKinnon, , “Assessment of OSS Personnel,” Journal of Consulting Psychology 10, no. 2 (1946): 79 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

74 The first corporate use of the assessment center was at AT&T, a program run by psychologist Douglas Bray.

75 MacKinnon met Isabel Briggs Myers while he was teaching at Bryn Mawr in the late 1940s; he subsequently brought the Myers-Briggs to IPAR.

76 On the history of creativity, see Bycroft, Michael, “Psychology, Psychologists and the Creativity Movement,” in Cold War Social Science, ed. Solovey, Mark and Cravens, Hamilton (New York, 2012)Google Scholar; Cohen-Cole, Jamie, “The Creative American: Cold War Salons, Social Science, and the Cure for Modern Society,” Isis 100, no. 2 (2009): 219–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

77 Gough is an important figure in the history of psychological testing, as one of the creators of the widely used California Psychological Inventory, which he developed at IPAR.

78 Harrison Gough, “Studies of the MBTI in a Personality Assessment Research Institute” (paper presented at the Fourth Biennial MBTI Conference, Stanford, 1981), Isabel Briggs Myers Memorial Library, Center for the Association of Psychological Type, Gainesville, Florida.

79 IPAR, Measures of Independence and Conformity, 1955, RG 1.2, subseries 205, box 3, folder 20, Rockefeller Foundation records, Sleepy Hollow, New York.

80 Many psychologists sought to experimentally study conformity and obedience. In his doctoral work with Solomon Asch, IPAR researcher Richard Crutchfield had found that subjects under (false) social pressure would err in judging the length of lines. Even more dramatically, Stanley Milgram's 1963 experiment on obedience to authority seemed to show that ordinary individuals were willing to inflict pain on innocent strangers under pressure from an authority figure. In public discourse and psychological research, conformity was connected to the authoritarian regimes of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Adorno, Theodore W., Frenkel-Brunswik, Else, Levinson, Daniel J., and Sanford, Nevitt, The Authoritarian Personality (New York, 1950)Google Scholar; Milgram, Stanley, Obedience to Authority (New York, 1974)Google Scholar. Historian Jamie Cohen-Cole argues that the “open-minded self,” understood as a tolerant, flexible, and creative subject, became an ideal model for the democratic subject in Cold War America as an antidote to this concern with the conformist personality. Cohen-Cole's argument suggests that intuition, as a mode of knowing that trusted the “mind's eye,” rather than blindly following business or political leaders, emerged in contrast to the conformist personality. Cohen-Cole, , The Open Mind: Cold War Politics and the Sciences of Human Nature (Chicago, 2014)Google Scholar.

81 Ironically, William Whyte's The Organization Man identified corporate psychological testing as a force for creating homogeneous, conformist corporate peons. The appendix, “How to Cheat on Personality Tests,” even urged test-takers to offer the most boring, conventional responses to avoid being screened out for psychological abnormalities. However, a psychological instrument like the Myers-Briggs Scale, claimed to measure, and celebrate, the precise kind of traits—creativity and intuition—that Whyte feared were being stamped out by personality testing. Whyte, , The Organization Man (Garden City, N.Y., 1956)Google Scholar.

82 Agor, Weston, “The Logic of Intuition: How Top Executives Make Important Decisions,” Organizational Dynamics 14, no. 3 (1986): 518 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

83 One could argue, however, that higher-level managers had more latitude to make the kinds of decisions associated with intuition. But what is of interest here is how intuition was credited with managerial success.

84 Agor, “Logic of Intuition.”

85 On the history of consulting, see McKenna, Christopher, The World's Newest Profession: Management Consulting in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, U.K., 2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

86 Some management researchers used novel EEG technology to measure brain waves, attempting to localize intuition in the brain itself. However, such technology was expensive, slow, and impractical. In studies by Robert Doktor and William Taggart, e.g., the brains of different professionals—CEOs and operations researchers, accountants, and artists—were scanned to find a neurological basis for the different cognitive styles associated with such professions. See Doktor, Robert and Bloom, David, “Selective Lateralization of Cognitive Style Related to Occupation as Determined by EEG Alpha Asymmetry,” Society for Psychological Research 14, no. 4 (1977): 385–87Google ScholarPubMed; and Taggart, William and Robey, Daniel, “Measuring Managers’ Minds: The Assessment of Style in Information Processing,” The Academy of Management Review 6, no. 3 (1982): 375–83Google Scholar.

87 See, e.g., Henry Mintzberg, who suggested that the right hemisphere was the seat of visionary corporate strategies: “Creative, integrated strategies seem to be the products of single brains, perhaps of single right hemispheres.” Mintzberg, “Planning on the Left Side and Managing on the Right,” Harvard Business Review, July/Aug. 1976, 56.

88 A conference on the MBTI hosted a talk on an early version of the HBDI, the Herrmann Participant Survey, which was used alongside the MBTI as a part of training programs for project managers in the federal government.

89 Herrmann, Ned, “The Creative Brain,” NASSP Bulletin 66, no. 455 (1982): 3146 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

90 Ibid.

91 Described in Nadel, Laurie, The Sixth Sense: The Whole Brain Book of Intuition (Upper Saddle River, N.J., 1990)Google Scholar, chap. 6.

92 This approach slowly started to appear in business schools, too. Some business schools developed courses to emphasize intuitive, creative thinking rather than the analytic thinking that pervaded the business school curriculum. Such courses incorporated unconventional techniques, like I Ching, guided meditation, and collaging to unleash creativity as a route to organizational innovation. Taggart, William, Robey, Daniel, and Taggart, Barbara, “Decision Styles Education,” Exchange: The Organizational Behavior Teaching Journal 7, no. 2 (1982): 1724 Google Scholar. Stanford offered “Creativity in Business,” the first full course devoted to creativity in business. Eric Berg, “Zen and the Stanford Business Student,” New York Times, 30 Jan. 1983.

93 In the 1960s, management theorists and consultants advocated participatory management as an alternative to hierarchical, top-down management structures, as a way to give workers a sense of participation and responsibility in work. McGregor, Douglas, Human Side of Enterprise (New York, 1960)Google Scholar; Raudsepp, Eugene, “Establishing a Creative Climate,” Training and Development Journal 41, no. 4 (1987): 50 Google Scholar.

94 Agor, Weston, “The Measurement, Use and Development of Intellectual Capital to Increase Public Sector Productivity,” Personnel Management 26, no. 2 (1997): 175–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

95 Herrmann, Ned, “The Creative Brain II: A Revisit with Ned Herrmann,” by Gorovitz, Elizabeth Shey, Training and Development Journal 36, no. 12 (1982): 82 Google Scholar.

96 Agor, Weston, “Managing Brain Skills to Increase Productivity,” Public Administration Review 45, no. 6 (1985): 864 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Agor, “Intellectual Capital,” 176.

97 Herrmann, “The Creative Brain II,” 82; Agor, “Managing Brain Skills.”

98 Leavitt, “Beyond the Analytic Manager.” On the history of humanistic psychology, see Grogan, Jessica, Encountering America: Humanistic Psychology, Sixties Culture, and the Shaping of the Modern Self (New York, 2012)Google Scholar; Jenna Alden, “Bottom-Up Management: Participative Philosophy and Humanistic Psychology in American Organizational Culture, 1930–1970” (PhD diss., Columbia University, 2012). On human relations, see Gillespie, Richard, Manufacturing Knowledge: A History of the Hawthorne Experiments (Cambridge, U.K., 1991)Google Scholar.

99 Frantz, Roger and Pattakos, Alex, “Introduction,” in Intuition at Work (San Francisco, 1996), 138 Google Scholar.

100 This was encouraged by Ford Foundation funding of business schools in the 1950s, which prioritized quantitative methods. On business education, see Khurana, Rakesh, From Higher Aims to Hired Hands (Princeton, 2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Heyck, Hunter, Herbert A. Simon: The Bounds of Reason in Modern America (Baltimore, 2005)Google Scholar.

101 Leavitt, “Beyond the Analytic Manager.”

102 Kahneman, Daniel, Slovic, Paul, and Tversky, Amos, eds., Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases (Cambridge, U.K., 1982)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Akinci and Sadler-Smith, “Intuition in Management Research,” 114.

103 Heyck, Herbert A. Simon; Dick, Stephanie, “Of Models and Machines: Implementing Bounded Rationality,” Isis 106, no. 3 (2015): 623–34CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed.

104 Simon, Herbert, “Making Management Decisions: The Role of Intuition and Emotion,” Academy of Management Executive 1, no. 1 (1987): 5764 Google Scholar.

105 Akinci and Sadler-Smith, “Intuition in Management Research.”

106 James McKenney and Peter Keen, “How Managers’ Minds Work,” Harvard Business Review, May/June 1974, 79–90. Marketing and advertising both have a long history of entanglement with psychology; see Pettit, Michael, The Science of Deception (Chicago, 2013)Google Scholar.

107 McKenney and Keen, “How Managers’ Minds Work.”

108 On technology in the workplace, see Haigh, Thomas, “Inventing Information Systems: The Systems Men and the Computer, 1950–1968,” Business History Review 75, no. 1 (2001): 1561 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Murphy, Michelle, Sick-Building Syndrome and the Problem of Uncertainty (Durham, N.C., 2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, chap. 2; and Harwood, John, The Interface: IBM and the Transformation of Corporate Design (Minneapolis, 2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

109 Light, Jennifer, “When Computers Were Women,” Technology and Culture 40, no. 3 (1999): 455–83Google Scholar; Herrmann, “The Creative Brain.”

110 Bregje van Eekelen, “The Social Lives of Ideas: Economies of Knowledge” (PhD diss., University of California, Santa Cruz, 2010), 221.

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