A group of researchers from the Graduate School of Management of St. Petersburg University (GSOM SPbU) studied the personal traits of people who have decided to seek additional education in adulthood. The focus was on the students of the Executive Education (EMBA) programs.
The study is part of a large-scale project dedicated to the psychological problems of adult learning in the context of lifelong education. Its goal is to identify psychological predictors (prognostic factors) that contribute to the professional and personal self-realization of adults after receiving executive education in the field of management.
The study “Who learns to manage in Russia: personality traits of students of the Master of Business Administration educational programs" is based on a survey of 418 people who completed the two-year EMBA program at GSOM SPbU. These are 138 women and 280 men aged 28 to 40, representing different regions of Russia.
It turned out that EMBA students rely on logic and rationality in their daily activities. The authors emphasize that for these people an objective assessment of the situation and the ability to reasonably prove the prevailing point of view are really important. It is easy for them to make difficult decisions. They tend to streamline their daily routines.
The respondents more often try on the leadership roles of the organizational and management plan — this point was chosen by 26% of the survey participants. Leaders-communicators are about 20.2%, intellectual leaders — 18.8%.
Elena Zavyalova, Head of the Department of Organizational Behavior and Personnel Management at GSOM SPbU and one of the authors of the study, noted: “It can be assumed that the cohort of students of executive education programs is a reflection of role preferences formed by the organizational environment and culture of Russian companies ... Our study of leaders' roles showed that the group of EMBA students are most focused on actions that ensure the effective organization of people and the work processes. The roles that provide communicative and intellectual management functions are moderately expressed, least of all — the roles associated with control actions."
The authors suggest extroversion, perhaps, the key psychological factor determining the choice of an executive education program specifically in the field of management. A personality trait such as social sensitivity, that is, sensitivity to trends and changes in society, should be recognized as significant for studying at the EMBA program.
At the same time, along with responsibility, EMBA listeners are characterized by a striving for egocentric leadership in team interaction. Plus researchers noted low indicators of self-organization, which create conditions for the vulnerability of both the individual and the results of management in the tense conditions of professional activity.
A significant part of the students have qualities that are traditionally attributed to the personality traits of a functionary manager. At the same time, research has shown that there are other types of listeners. One of them includes people of an introverted mindset, possessing systems thinking, combining both logic and intuition, capable of generating new ideas. This type, according to foreign experts, can be considered the most promising for solving modern management problems.
Elena Zavyalova believes that the results of the study will help to increase the effectiveness of academic programs in the field of management: “The question of psychological mechanisms that induce managers to receive executive education and further professional self-realization is becoming promising. We are planning to establish and analyze the relationship of psychological resources, academic performance, subsequent professional self-realization and social success of executive education programs in the field of management's alumni."
The research group includes Elena Zavyalova, Head of the Department of Organizational Behavior and Personnel Management at GSOM SPbU, Svetlana Posokhova, Professor of the Faculty of Psychology of Saint Petersburg University, Antonina Lisovskaya, Associate Professor of the Department of Organizational Behavior and Personnel Management at GSOM SPbU, and Dmitry Sokolov, Assistant of the Department of Organizational Behavior and Personnel Management at GSOM SPbU worked on the study.