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Cognitive styles and managerial behaviour: a qualitative study

Eva Cools (People and Organisation Department, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, Gent, Belgium)
Herman Van Den Broeck (Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School and Ghent University, Gent, Belgium)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 21 March 2008




The purpose of this paper is to contribute further insights into how cognitive styles influence managerial behaviour, using a qualitative approach.


Written testimonies were gathered from people with different cognitive styles, and content analysed (n=100).


Qualitative evidence was found for managerial style preferences in accordance with cognitive styles, leading to various ways of decision making, conflict handling, and giving feedback.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should explore how these results can be linked to contextual elements and to managerial performance.

Practical implications

This study contributes to increased managerial style awareness, which is important for intrapersonal development and interpersonal cooperation.


This is one of a few studies that have sought to qualitatively grasp the implications of having a particular cognitive style. It provides relevant insights into task‐ and people‐oriented managerial practices beyond previous, mainly quantitative studies.



Cools, E. and Van Den Broeck, H. (2008), "Cognitive styles and managerial behaviour: a qualitative study", Education + Training, Vol. 50 No. 2, pp. 103-114.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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