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Investigating the relationship between emotional intelligence and high managerial performance in selected corporations in Belgium and Malaysia

Dissertation
Author: Shameem A. Farouk
Abstract:
The goal of this study was to investigate the relationship between emotional intelligence (EI) and high managerial performance in two corporations, one in Belgium and one in Malaysia. Many researchers have observed that there is an inextricable link between thoughts and emotions, and current research is revealing the ways in which emotions can influence thinking and decision-making. However, the role and extent of EI in contributing to high managerial performance is still elusive despite popular claims and hype that EI is a panacea for performance. A correlational study was conducted to examine the relationship between EI and high managerial performance. In addition other known correlates of performance such as behavioral competencies, personality traits, motivation, and team culture were also examined as a comparison to EI. Results of this study indicate that EI, as measured by the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT V2.0) was not significantly and positively related to managerial performance in either of the two corporations despite interpersonal and teamwork behavioral competencies being distinguishing competencies between high and average performing managers. Additionally, team leadership, achievement orientation, self confidence, development of others, and cognitive abilities are key competencies that are significantly correlated to high managerial performance in both corporations. In predicting managerial performance using logistic regression, team leadership and self management competencies correctly classified 83% of managers' performances. The small sample sizes may limit the generalizability of the findings, though the multi-sample approach revealed consistent findings to suggest that behavioral competencies seem to be the best predictor of managerial performance and that further conceptualization and operationalization of the EI construct across cultural contexts may still be needed before implementing the measure at large.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT.......................................................................................................................v

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION.........................................................................................1 Background of the Study...............................................................................................2 Objectives of the Study..................................................................................................4 Rationale.......................................................................................................................7 Significance...................................................................................................................7

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW...............................................................................9 Key Development #1: Developments in the Relationships between Emotions, Intelligence, and Cognitive Processes...........................................................................9 History and Philosophy of Emotions.......................................................................9 Current Definition of Emotions..............................................................................15 Neural Bases of Emotions and the Relationship...................................................18 to Cognitive Processes.........................................................................................18 Developments in the Intelligence Construct and...................................................20 the Conception of Emotional Intelligence.............................................................20 Definition of Emotional Intelligence.......................................................................21 Cross-cultural Considerations of Emotional Intelligence.......................................25 Key Development #2: The Changing Roles of Managers in a Highly Competitive and Changing Global Economy...................................................................................27 Definition of High Managerial Performance..........................................................31 Key Development #3: The Need for Evidence on the Relationship between Emotional Intelligence and Managerial Performance...................................................34 How Emotional Intelligence May Relate to...........................................................35 High Managerial Performance..............................................................................35 The Relationship between Societal Cultures, Organization.........................................38 Culture, and Management Practices............................................................................38 Issues Surrounding EI and Current Approaches.........................................................44

CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY......................................................................................49 Context and Sample Selection....................................................................................50 Background of Corporation A in Malaysia............................................................51 Background of Corporation B in Belgium..............................................................53 Study Participants.................................................................................................54 Data Sources and Instrumentation..............................................................................58 Criterion Variable..................................................................................................58 Correlates.............................................................................................................59 Data Collection Procedures.........................................................................................73 Corporation A.......................................................................................................73 Corporation B.......................................................................................................75

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Data Analyses.............................................................................................................77 Research Questions 1 (a) and 1(b)......................................................................77 Research Question 1 (c).......................................................................................79 Research Question 2............................................................................................80

CHAPTER 4: FINDINGS & DISCUSSION......................................................................83 Findings and Discussion for Criterion Variable: Comparison of...................................84 Results Produced by Managers...................................................................................84 Findings on Value Added Output of Managers.....................................................84 General Characteristics of High Performing Managers........................................89 General Characteristics of Average Performing Managers..................................90 Discussion on Value Added Output of Managers.................................................90 Findings & Discussion for Research Question One: The Relationship........................98 between EI and Managerial Performance....................................................................98 Findings for Research Question 1(a)..................................................................103 Findings for Research Question 1 (b).................................................................108 Discussion for Research Questions 1(a) and 1(b)..............................................109 Findings for Research Question 1(c):.................................................................133 Behavioral Competencies...................................................................................133 Discussion for Research Question 1(c):.............................................................141 Behavioral Competencies...................................................................................141 Findings for Research Question 1(c): Motivation................................................157 Discussion on Research Question 1(c): Motivation............................................163 Findings for Research Question 1(c): Personality..............................................168 Discussion for Research Question 1(c): Personality...........................................173 Findings for Research Question 1(c): Team Culture..........................................175 Discussion for Research Question 1(c): Team Culture.......................................179 The Possible Effects of Societal Culture to EI, Competencies, and Motivation..181 Findings for Research Question 2: The Prediction of.........................................187 High Managerial Performance............................................................................187 Discussion for Research Question 2..................................................................189

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION........................................................................................192 Study Summary.........................................................................................................192 The Correlation of Emotional Intelligence (EI) to Performance...........................192 The Correlation of Behavioral Competencies to Performance............................193 Study Limitations.......................................................................................................195 Recommendations for Research and Practice..........................................................197 Recommendations for Future Research.............................................................197 Recommendations for Practice...........................................................................207

APPENDIX A: Behavioral Event Interview (BEI) Questions.........................................225

APPENDIX B: Competencies Assessed in the Behavioral Event Interview (BEI)........226

REFERENCES..............................................................................................................229

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LIST OF TABLES

Table 1. How Emotions Provide Behavioral Cues in the Past and Present 16 Table 2. Relationship between EI Subscales to High Managerial Performance 36 Table 3. Cultural Differences between Belgium, Malaysia and United States 39 Table 4. The Proposed Constructs of Emotional Intelligence 46 Table 5. The Demographics of the Participants in Both Corporations in the Study 57 Table 6. Corporation A: Description of Value Added Output of Each Manager 85 Table 7. Corporation B: Description of Value Added Output of Each Manager 87 Table 8. Key Value Added Contribution of High versus Average Performing Managers 97 Table 9. Descriptive Statistics for Corporation A EI Scores 99 Table 10. Descriptive Statistics for Corporation B EI Scores 99 Table 11. Mean Differences between High and Average Performing Employees 104 Table 12. Corporation A: Inter-correlations between EI and Performance 105 Table 13. Corporation B: Inter-correlations between EI and Performance 106 Table 14. Average Age of High Performers vs. Average Performers in Corporation B 107 Table 15. Zero Order Correlations and Partial Correlations 107 Table 16. Cross Cultural Comparisons of Emotional Intelligence Mean Scores 108 Table 17. Correlations between Competencies and Performance in Each Corporation 134 Table 18. High versus Average Performance Behavioral Characteristics 135 Table 19. Correlations between Competencies and EI 153 Table 20. Descriptive Statistics for Corporation A Motivation Scores 157 Table 21. Descriptive Statistics for Corporation B Motivation Scores 157 Table 22. Differences between High and Average Performers by Corporation 158 Table 23. Correlation between Social Motives and Competencies by Corporation 160 Table 24. Descriptive Statistics for Personality by Corporation 168 Table 25. Inter-correlation between Personality Variables and With Performance 169 Table 26. Correlation between Personality and EI 171 Table 27. Descriptive Statistics for Team Culture 176 Table 28. Mean Comparison between Performance Groups by Corporation 177 Table 29. Model Summary of Logistic Regression and Predictor Variable Results 187 Table 30. Classification Table 189 Table 31. Performance Determinants and Possible Instructional Techniques 221

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1. The Affect Regulation Model 18 Figure 2. The Four Abilities of Emotional Intelligence by Mayer & Salovey (1997) 22 Figure 3. What High Performance is Worth 32 Figure 4. Operant versus Respondent Thoughts 65 Figure 5. The Relationship between Motives and Competencies to Performance 162 Figure 6. Team Culture Comparison between Performance Groups 178 Figure 7. The different components of automatic processing and their influence on emotionally intelligent behavior. 199 Figure 8. Contribution of Knowledge Types to Organizational Performance 201

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CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

This study examines the relationship between emotional intelligence (EI) and managerial performance in one corporation in Belgium, and one corporation in Malaysia. There is currently a lack of research evidence on the relationship between EI and managerial performance even though there is widespread use of EI-based intervention programs to improve managerial performance. Many researchers have observed that there is an inextricable link between thoughts and emotions, and current research is revealing the ways in which emotions can influence thinking and decision-making. However, the significance and extent of the role of EI in effective managerial performance is still elusive. Organizations around the world are intrigued by EI but do not have concrete evidence on the role of EI in managerial performance. Furthermore, the differences in the conceptualization of EI in the past have created a fragmented literature base, but which is now developing more methodically with recent findings to help clarify the EI construct (Hanna, 2008). The interest in EI among many organizations across the world and the notion of EI as a universal intelligence construct (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2002) would benefit from findings of cross-cultural studies in EI. This study was conducted in two diverse organizations in terms of geographical, social, economic, and organizational contexts. The organizations participating in this study are in the banking and telecommunications industries in Malaysia and Belgium respectively. Both corporations have a desire to ensure the availability of a highly skilled workforce in the face of intense competition in their respective industries. These organizations are seeking more evidence-based data

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on factors, particularly social and emotional intelligences, which may relate to high managerial performance. Consequently, this study was conducted as an exploratory correlational study between EI and managerial performance.

Background of the Study In the middle to late 90’s there were a number of definitions and constructs that were proposed as EI. Some proposed definitions of EI took center-stage and gained widespread popularity beyond academia, for example Goleman’s (1995) best-selling book on Emotional Intelligence. During this time, many of the proposed definitions of EI had not yet been evaluated through rigorous testing for validity and reliability. This phenomenon created confusion among both practitioners and researchers on what really is EI. However, during the late 90s and early 21 st century many researchers had conducted a variety of investigations on the validity and reliability of the various proposed constructs of EI, and concluded that the EI construct proposed by Mayer & Salovey (1997) is indeed a type of intelligence. According to Daus & Ashkanasy (2005) the EI construct proposed by Mayer & Salovey (1997) “behaves psychometrically just as an intelligence should; and it demonstrates solid convergent and discriminant validity to support its claims to be an intelligence” (p. 454). A special issue in the Journal of Organization Behavior in 2005 presented a series of debates on the EI construct, and Daus & Ashkanasy (2005) concluded that “whether or not emotional intelligence is a distinct intelligence, has already been debated in the academic literature and we believe settled definitively in the affirmatively” (p. 454). Furthermore according to Daus & Cage

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(2008), “for the most part, the discussions and science have moved beyond attempts to distinguish it as a legitimate construct to measurement and practical application concerns” (p. 245). Nevertheless in the corporate sector there is currently a lack of research evidence on the practical significance of EI and the relationship to employee and managerial performance. Though, according to Jordan (2008) many practitioners claim that EI is making a difference in information technology (Levinson, 2003); in human resource management (Neely-Martinez, 1997), in finance (Kirch, Tucker, & Kirch, 2001), and in management (Myers & Tucker, 2005). These assertions about the value of EI by practitioners may not be entirely anecdotal as there are emerging research findings on the role of emotions in decision-making. According to Sala, Druskat, & Mount (2006): Reports about unavoidable influence of emotion on behavior and decision- making have emerged from a variety of disciplines including psychology (e.g., Lewis & Haviland-Jones, 2000), organizational behavior (e.g., Ashford & Humphrey, 1995; Martin, Knopoff, & Beckman, 1998), sociology (e.g., Ollilainen, 2000), anthropology (e.g., Levy, 1984), and neuroscience (e.g., Damasio, 1994) (p.27).

These scholars have proposed that emotion provides a unique source of information about the environment and that it unavoidably informs thoughts and actions. Emotional intelligence, as proposed by Mayer & Salovey (1997), is the ability to: 1) accurately identify emotions, 2) understand how emotions can influence thinking and behavior, 3) regulate, and generate emotions for effective behavioral response, and 4) manage emotional changes and intensities in yourself and others. According to Nisbett (2009) EI has been conceptualized as a distinct type of intelligence present in all human beings and shares common characteristics with other types of intelligence involving the

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abilities to comprehend, reason, manipulate, and think abstractly about emotions. Psychologists Robert Sternberg (2007) studied the conception of intelligence from a variety of cultures and found that many people value and include social characteristics, such as the ability to understand and empathize with others as aspects of intelligence. In recent cross-cultural competency studies of successful managers (Boyatzis, 2009; Spencer, Ryan, & Bernhard, 2008), high performing managers were found to demonstrate social and emotional skills such as empathy, relationship building, influencing, coaching, emotional self-awareness, flexibility, and tenacity. These studies together with other anecdotal claims from practitioners on the influential role of EI on performance have raised further interest in a variety of organizations to investigate the role of EI on managerial performance.

Objectives of the Study The objective of this study is to address if EI, as measured by the Mayer- Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT V2.0), is related to high managerial performance in two different corporations, one in Belgium, and one in Malaysia. A secondary objective of this study is to examine if EI is related to known social and emotional competencies of high performing managers such as leadership, interpersonal understanding, and teamwork skills. The research questions that are addressed in this study are: 1. Is there a relationship between EI and managerial performance in the selected corporations in Belgium and Malaysia?

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a. Given the different cultural contexts, is the observed relationship between EI and managerial performance similar in the selected corporations in Belgium and Malaysia? b. How do the EI levels in the selected companies in Belgium and Malaysia compare against the MSCEIT V2.0 database means of other countries? c. In comparison to EI how do other variables such as personality, behavioral competencies, motivation, and team culture relate to managerial performance in the two sampled locations in Belgium and Malaysia? 2. Based on the correlational patterns found, are there variables that can predict high managerial performance?

According to a recent meta-analysis by (Joseph & Newman, 2010), while there have been many correlational studies conducted between EI and work performance, these studies have largely used criterion measures of performance that may not necessarily relate to actual managerial results. Prior studies have used measures such as salary increments, job rank, and supervisor nominations, which may confound results. Moreover, prior studies have been confined to junior professional jobs using trait and mixed models of EI rather than the ability model of EI as proposed by (Mayer & Salovey, 1997). In addition, in a globalizing economy, cross-cultural studies are increasingly important particularly for constructs that are treated as universal in nature such as EI (Mayer, et al., 2002). There is currently active research in developing future managers that are effective in a variety of contexts (House, et al., 1999; Trompenaars & Hamden- Turner, 2009). Limited market opportunities within a country and stiff competition from

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foreign competitors have forced many local corporations to seek opportunities abroad. The future manager is expected to possess skills that enable them to be effective in a variety of possible contexts. However, the specific managerial behaviors that are different across cultures and whether EI may help explain possible variations in high performance among a diverse workforce are still ambivalent. Emotional intelligence has been hypothesized to be a universal construct, which operationalizes similarly in people around the world much like cognitive intelligence. This hypothesis needs to be tested with current research findings given the recent clarification on the definition and construct of EI. The MSCEIT V2.0 has shown validity and reliability in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Spain, India, and Australia (Mayer, et al., 2002). I chose to conduct a cross-cultural study in Belgium and Malaysia which currently have scare findings on EI and the relationship to effective managerial performance. These countries also represent two unique sets of population with each country representing a cross-section of the Asian and European regions. Malaysia is a multi-cultural country consisting of Malays, Chinese, and Indians, while Belgium consists of Dutch, French, and German speaking citizens. Despite the multi-cultural and multi-languages employed in both countries, the corporations in the countries utilize English as a business language, which provides an added advantage of being able to conduct the interviews and data collection in English. Dutch and French versions of the MSCEITV2.0 were available, and employees completed this assessment in their preferred language.

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Rationale

Prior studies of high performing managers reveal that certain social and emotional competencies relate to these managers’ success ((Boyatzis, 2009; Cherniss, 2000; Mcclelland, 1998; Rhee, 2008; Ryan, Emmerling, & Spencer, 2009). The current conception of emotional intelligence as a type of intelligence has been hypothesized to relate to managerial effectiveness (Caruso, 2008; Caruso & Salovey, 2004). Limited research evidence is available; nevertheless, Rosete & Ciarrochi (2005) found that emotional intelligence as measured by the MSCEIT V2.0 correlates with measures of interpersonal working relationships among 41 public service executives in Australia. This study intends to examine the specific thinking, feeling, and behavioral competencies of high performing managers in actual job settings, and how this relates to their emotional intelligence profile as measured by the MSCEIT V2.0. This comparison can help shed further light on how emotional intelligence may play a role in contributing to effective performance. Further, this study provides a way for us to understand how managers of different organizational cultures think, feel, and behave effectively such that we have a deeper and broader understanding of the role of emotional intelligence across organizational contexts.

Significance

Currently, there are few published studies of the empirical link between EI and managerial performance and between EI and social and emotional competencies of high performing managers. Thus, this study is intended to contribute to the developing literature and knowledge base on emotional intelligence and performance, which may

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help practitioners and researchers who are deliberating on the value of EI for employee performance and further research. Furthermore, the relationship between EI and social and emotional competencies may further help elucidate the nomological network of the EI construct through potential correlates such as emotional competencies. The cross-cultural data also provides for information from two diverse organizational and societal settings. This research intends to examine if there are indeed commonalities that might exists in how high performing managers execute their jobs, which is intended to help contribute to the dialogue on whether a universal intelligence construct on emotions is appropriate for predicting workplace performance globally. An immediate concern that is of practical significance on the link between EI and managerial performance is the effectiveness of current selection methods for identifying capable people, be it students, employees, or managers. As more business leaders are acknowledging the fact that technical competencies alone are insufficient to predict on- the-job performance, a common complaint from industry is that there is lack of guidance on the ways to select talented employees and managers. What assessment instruments should a corporation use to select high potential managers? Organizations have struggled for many years to pinpoint the key success factors of effective training and development programs that are able to extract valuable results from people and to also justify the substantial investment costs in these efforts. As such, studies on high managerial performance can provide further guidance on focusing training and selection on key differentiating qualities that has the potential for highest value added contribution for organizations.

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CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

There are three main developments in the area of emotional intelligence (EI) and management performance that will be reviewed in this study: 1) developments in research on cognition, emotion, and intelligence, 2) the changing roles of managers in a highly competitive and changing global economy, and 3) the need for evidence on the relationship between emotional intelligence and managerial performance. These developments and considerations are discussed in the following section.

Key Development #1: Developments in the Relationships between Emotions, Intelligence, and Cognitive Processes It is important to consider the historical and philosophical foundations on the nature of emotions in order to understand and define emotions. As Solomon (2008) describes: Although one might impatiently demand from the outset that one define the terms before the current discussion commences, the truth is that a definition emerges only at the end of a long discussion, and even then it is always tentative and appropriate only within a limited context and certain models of culture and personal character (p. 4).

Thus, the following section describes the key historical events and philosophical approaches related to the understanding of emotions.

History and Philosophy of Emotions

Initial conceptualization about emotions can be traced back to early Greek thinkers, Plato and Aristotle in their definitions of the soul and the importance of reason to pursue truth and knowledge. According to (Cahn, 1997), Plato and Aristotle regarded

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reason as the means to provide humans with access to the forms already residing in our minds, while feelings and senses were mistrusted and prevented humans from acquiring real knowledge. For example, Plato’s allegory of the cave depicts the deceptiveness of the human senses whereby the shadows of the cave prevents and confuses cave dwellers about the outside world and true reality. It is only after humans can transcend their senses and escape the cave through our choice of seeking truth via reason, that we can be freed to see the sun, which is absolute knowledge and goodness. Thus, there was a general distrust about feelings and senses as highlighted by Plato and Aristotle in favor of rational, logical thought, and mathematical proving. The challenges faced during Socrates’s, Plato’s, and Aristotle’s time revolved around compelling people and ultimately rulers to govern based on insight and wisdom for a better life. According to (Cahn, 1997), Plato asserted that the more knowledge that people can attain, the better the choice of the ruler who ultimately governs their lives. This influenced the emphasis on reason, and the central role of logical thought as the “master”, and the senses and feelings as the “slave”. Solomon (2008) describes that: The master-slave metaphor displays two features that still determine much of the philosophical view of emotion today. First there is the inferior role of emotion – the idea that emotion is as such more primitive, less intelligent, more bestial, less dependable, and more dangerous than reason, and thus needs to be controlled by reason (an argument that Aristotle and other enlightened Athenians used to justify the political institution of slavery, as well). Second, and more profoundly there is the reason-emotion distinction itself – as if we were dealing with two different natural kinds, two conflicting and antagonistic aspects of the soul. Even those philosophers who sought to integrate them and reduce one to the other maintained the distinction and continued to insist on the superiority of reason (p. 3).

Full document contains 248 pages
Abstract: The goal of this study was to investigate the relationship between emotional intelligence (EI) and high managerial performance in two corporations, one in Belgium and one in Malaysia. Many researchers have observed that there is an inextricable link between thoughts and emotions, and current research is revealing the ways in which emotions can influence thinking and decision-making. However, the role and extent of EI in contributing to high managerial performance is still elusive despite popular claims and hype that EI is a panacea for performance. A correlational study was conducted to examine the relationship between EI and high managerial performance. In addition other known correlates of performance such as behavioral competencies, personality traits, motivation, and team culture were also examined as a comparison to EI. Results of this study indicate that EI, as measured by the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT V2.0) was not significantly and positively related to managerial performance in either of the two corporations despite interpersonal and teamwork behavioral competencies being distinguishing competencies between high and average performing managers. Additionally, team leadership, achievement orientation, self confidence, development of others, and cognitive abilities are key competencies that are significantly correlated to high managerial performance in both corporations. In predicting managerial performance using logistic regression, team leadership and self management competencies correctly classified 83% of managers' performances. The small sample sizes may limit the generalizability of the findings, though the multi-sample approach revealed consistent findings to suggest that behavioral competencies seem to be the best predictor of managerial performance and that further conceptualization and operationalization of the EI construct across cultural contexts may still be needed before implementing the measure at large.