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Organizational change capacity and composition of management teams: A visualization of how personality traits may restrain team adaptability

Jan Ketil Arnulf (Department of Organization and Leadership, BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway)

Team Performance Management

ISSN: 1352-7592

Article publication date: 12 October 2012




The purpose of this study is to show that the presence of strong personality traits in management teams may have limiting effects on the teams' ability to adapt to critical changes in their business environments.


The financial operations characterizing ten management teams have been traced over three years, and the personalities of all managers were measured during the first phase of the project. A critical incident in the market signalled a need to adapt after about 20 months. The ensuing adaptation was analysed and related to the presence of strong personality traits, plotting all data in two‐dimensional space to visualize the relationship between personality and business operations.


The intra‐team maximum traits were systematically related to a tendency to perform habitual business in the teams. Only intelligence and stability were related to better performance after the crisis, suggestion that other strong traits may impose rigidity.

Research limitations/implications

The sample is limited to ten management teams, but these are followed for three years through 33 observation points. Also, a visualization technique based on factor analysis is used in addition to regression equations as one of the main methodological tools.

Practical implications

Managers composing teams should observe the presence of strong traits and take action to prevent obstructing adaptation after crises. This knowledge may induce efforts to overcome rigidity and understand the value of reflection‐in‐action for teams.


The paper presents a new way of conceptualizing the role of personality in management teams and shows its immediate impact on business performance in a real‐life setting.



Ketil Arnulf, J. (2012), "Organizational change capacity and composition of management teams: A visualization of how personality traits may restrain team adaptability", Team Performance Management, Vol. 18 No. 7/8, pp. 433-454.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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