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Toward better understanding developmental reflection differences for use in management development research and practice

Todd Maurer (Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Nikolaos Dimotakis (Oklahoma State University Stillwater, Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA)
Greg Hardt (Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA)
A.J. Corner (University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 25 December 2020

Issue publication date: 20 January 2021




We introduce a new approach to developmental reflection in which the focus is on differences in how people reflect. When reflecting on challenging experiences, people achieve better development when they tend to look for causes of what happened within changeable personal characteristics, and they subsequently focus on the improvement of those personal characteristics.


Supervisors and subordinates with leadership responsibilities in diverse jobs in varied industries provided survey data (444 individuals in a psychometric testing sample, and 419 paired subordinate/supervisor dyads in a model-testing sample).


The reflection difference construct had the expected factor structure, reliability, and was distinguishable from eight conceptually related variables in the literature. Reflection differences were predicted by the theoretically relevant job, person, and situational variables and were associated with development and performance outcomes.

Practical implications

The reflection construct might be used for prediction to identify the individuals who are likely to get the most from challenging experiences and improve. Further, by identifying predictors of reflection, ideas for enhancing reflection are provided. Also, by uncovering specific underlying dimensionality of reflection, this offers specific targets for interventions beyond generally encouraging people to reflect.


This study establishes support for: (1) the new theoretical framing of reflection differences, (2) a new preliminary model of antecedents and outcomes, and (3) an initial scale for future research and practice that can be more explicit about understanding and addressing underlying differences in how people reflect.



Funding: This work was supported by a U.S. Army Research Institute research contract (W5J9CQ-12-C-0029) in which the first author served as PI. The view, opinions, and/or findings contained in this paper are those of the authors and should not be construed as an official Department of the Army position, policy, or decision.


Maurer, T., Dimotakis, N., Hardt, G. and Corner, A.J. (2021), "Toward better understanding developmental reflection differences for use in management development research and practice", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 40 No. 1, pp. 52-73.



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