I’ve been thinking lately about the role of “time span of discretion” findings of Elliott Jaques and his colleagues in the results of social science. For example, Nancy M. Schullery reviews some of the literature about success and argumentativeness in “Argumentative Men: Expectations of Success” (The Journal of Business Communication, October 1999):
Individuals with the personality predisposition of high argumentativeness are more inclined to argue and believe themselves skilled at making arguments. The predisposition has been linked with positive outcomes in the workplace for several years. For example, argumentative persons are reported to be more effective upward communicators (Infante & Gorden, 1985b, 1987), more decisive (Infante, 1989), and more often chosen as group leaders (Schultz, 1982). However, there is little evidence from objective criteria that benefits accrue to argumentative individuals in the workplace, and some evidence to the contrary has recently been reported for women (Schullery, 1998).
I really would love to see if these results still work after controlling for level of complexity of information processing (CIP). The results in this case are indeterminate anyway — the gist of the article is a mixed message for argumentativeness in managers — but I would still like to see what controlling for CIP does. Are subordinates who code as “argumentative” also having higher CIP (on average)? Because management track employees code as substantially argumentative but managers code as very moderated, I’m wondering if some of this isn’t explained by differences between stratum of individual and stratum of role occupied.
Just thinking. I wonder about this with a great deal of the research I see. If CIP has validity, then using college students as test subjects really gives you almost useless results.