Development and Outline of an Assessment Center for Testing the Global Mindset

Master's Thesis, 2013

90 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

Executive Summary

1 Introduction
1.1 Problem
1.2 Objective and Research Question
1.3 Structure of the Thesis

2 Conceptual Framework and State of Research
2.1 Assessment Center
2.1.1 Definition and Purpose of Assessment Centers
2.1.2 History
2.1.3 Participating Persons Requirements Profiler Designer Moderator Observer Candidate
2.1.4 Areas of Application
2.1.5 Elements of an Assessment Center Lectures and Presentations Group Activities Role Plays Intray Exercises Interviews Personality Tests, Intelligence Tests, Performance Tests, and Concentration Tests Feedback
2.1.6 Evaluative Criteria
2.1.7 Results
2.2 Global Mindset
2.2.1 Concept of Mindset Contents and Structure Functions and Dysfunctions of the Mindset Significance and Requirements of a Mindset
2.2.2 Definition of the Term Global Mindset
2.2.3 History and Historical Context of the Term Global Mindset
2.2.4 Global Mindset as Intellectual, Psychological, and Social Capital Intellectual Capital Psychological Capital Social Capital
2.2.5 Relevance of the Global Mindset in a Business Context
2.2.6 Perspectives of the Global Mindset Cultural Perspective Strategic Perspective Multidimensional Perspective
2.2.7 Development of the Individual Global Mindset
2.2.8 Changeable and Unchangeable Character Traits as Elements of a Global Mindset
2.2.9 Measures for Learning Development Cultivation of Self-Perception Verbalizing the Perception of One's Own Consciousness and that of Others Appreciation for, and Understanding of, the Home Culture Lifelong Learning Acquiring Theoretical Knowledge Self-Initiated Education Interaction with Others Willingness to Travel
2.3 Measuring the Global Mindset at the Level of the Individual
2.3.1 Theoretical Framework for Measuring the Individual Global Mindset
2.3.2 Practical Measurement of the Global Mindset At the Level of the Individual
2.3.3 Results
2.4 The Global Mindset as Object of an Assessment Center

3 Methodology, Design, and Execution of the Empirical Study
3.1 Quantitative and Quantitative Research
3.2 Expert Interviews
3.3 Grounded Theory
3.4 Research Design and Execution

4 Results and Analysis
4.1 Empirical Data from the Expert Interviews
4.2 Concept of an Assessment Center for Testing the Global Mindset
4.2.1 Assessment Center Global for the Global Mindset Roles of the Persons Participating in an Assessment Center for the Global Mindset Requirements Profiler Designer Moderator Observer Candidate Elements of an Assessment Center for the Global Mindset Lectures and Presentations Group Exercises Role Plays Intray Exercises Interviews Personality Test Feedback Results
4.2.2 Specific Tasks Presentation Group Discussions Role Play Intray Exercise Interview Personality Test

5 Conclusion
5.1 Summary
5.2 Implications for Research and Practice

List of References


List of Figures

Fig. 1: Elements of an Individual Mindset

Fig. 2: Global Mindset and Organizational Development

Fig. 3: Distinction between Strategies According to Doz et al

Fig. 4: Chronological Development of an Organizational Global Mindset

Fig. 5: Hierarchical System of Categories

Fig. 6: System of Categories with Network Structures

List of Tables

Tab. 1: Functions of the Mindset According to Marcus and Zajnov

Tab. 2: Properties of the mindset According to Sparrow

Tab. 3: Perspectives of the Global Mindset According to Perlmutter

Tab. 4: Organizational Characteristics According to Bartlett and Ghoshal

Tab. 5: Components of a Glocal Mindset

Tab. 6: Aspects of the Global Mindset According to Levy et al

Tab. 7: Fundamental Threshold Properties of a Mindset according to Bird and Osland

Tab. 8: Sociological Arguments Cited by Arora et al

Tab. 9: Training Measures for Individuals

Tab. 10: Organizing Structure for the Development of a Global Mindset According to Maznevski and Lane

Tab. 11: The Four Phases of Analysis According to Calori et al

Tab. 12: The Five Phases of the Study by Ananthram et al

Tab. 13: Steps in the Analysis of Expert Interviews

Tab. 14: Forms of Differentiation According to Strauss and Corbin

Tab. 15: Core Properties of the Global Mindset

Tab. 16: The 10 Most Important Core Properties on the Basis of the Interviews

Tab. 17: Results of the Expert Interviews

Executive Summary

Globalization poses new challenges to the selection of personnel. Enterprises have to hold their ground in the market under the condition of globalization, and their employees must therefore be able to act adequately in different cultural contexts and to understand the complexities of a globalized world. This means that they need to have a specific set of attitudes, qualities, and abilities at their disposal. This set is termed a global mindset.

This master’s thesis with the title ‘Development and Outline of an Assessment Center for Testing the Global Mindset’ investigates how properties pertaining to a global mindset can be tested by means of an assessment center. To this end, the thesis first discusses the concept, and the background, of the assessment center, in particular its definition, its history, the persons participating in it, the elements of an assessment center, its areas of application, and the evaluative criteria used in assessment centers. In a second step, the thesis discusses the concept of the global mindset. Subsequently, the literature on using assessment centers to test the global mindset is surveyed. The thesis then discusses the methodology for a qualitative empirical study, which was conducted by the researcher and on which the design of an assessment center for testing the global mindset is based. In the above-mentioned methods section, qualitative and quantitative approaches, the expert interview, and Grounded Theory are explained to give a rationale for this thesis’s use of the expert interview as an instrument appropriate for exploratory investigations such as the one at hand. The empirical results are presented and discussed and, on their basis, a concept for an assessment center is developed. The concept includes the design of concrete tasks for testing qualities and abilities such as an interest in other cultures, self-confidence, willingness to accept risk, optimism, self- assertiveness, communicative skills, team spirit, understanding of global interrelations, and willingness to learn. The thesis concludes with a comparison between the findings of previous literature and the results gained here, and points out the implications of its results for both future research and practical application in a business context.

1 Introduction

On March 10, 2013, the German newspaper Handelsblatt reported that Gerhard Cromme had resigned his position as chair of the supervisory board of Thyssen-Krupp AG because of the billion-euro losses the company had suffered in Brazil (Handelsblatt, 3.10.2013). According to the newspaper, the shortlist of his successors included HansPeter Keimel and Ulrich Lehner, both were considered to be more successful networkers, and more experienced in the globalized world of management, than Cromme. The event poses the question if a companies such as Thyssen-Krupp AG can avoid poor personnel decisions in the first place.

In recent years, the world has changed in the course of globalization, and these changes particularly, though not exclusively, affect internationally operating companies, regardless whether they are large multinationals small and mid-size enterprises (SME) (Hruby, 2013: 1). Globalization is defined as the economic convergence of countries, the linkage of markets, and the geographic mobility of factors of production (Fäßler, 2007: 30).

Companies are faced with a global environment of increasing complexity. In order for them to operate successfully in this environment their executives should possess a global mindset. A global mindset is the cognitive ability to understand, and connect, different cultures (Rogers-Wynands, 2002: 1; Hoffmann-Ripken, 2003: 150).

Executives can develop a global mindset by refining the structures of their thought processes, which improves their ability to adapt their strategies to a complex reality. By employing executives with a global mindset and with the abilities concomitant with it companies improve their chances to persist in the competition in the marketplace (Bartlett and Ghoshal, 1998: 63). This election of suitable personnel is thus an increasingly important task of human-resource management.

The objective of this thesis is to create a concept for an assessment center appropriate for the fulfillment of this task.

1.1 Problem

Companies demand of their executives "to think globally and act locally" (Hofstede, 2011: 12; own translation).

Yet, how can companies ensure that current and prospective managers possess an adequate global mindset? How can they measure how well-developed their executives’ "cultural empathy" or "understanding of other cultures" is? Which executive can truly handle different grades of ambivalence and diversity? Which manager possesses an adequate understanding of different sociocultural systems and institutions? And which personalities possess a character profile and the intellectual wherewithal that enable them to acquire the necessary knowledge and abilities?

In order to facilitate good staffing decisions, not only methods of personnel profiling have to be considered, but also the construction of the global mindset. In particular, the elements of a global mindset have to be defined so that it becomes possible to conceptualize an assessment center adequate for measuring them.

1.2 Objective and Research Question

The interest in the concept of a global mindset is increasing, which can be explained by the increase in cultural and economic complexity. Today, companies need executives, who either already possess a developed and adequate global mindset or are able to develop one (Javidan et al., 2007).

In the course of this master’s thesis, an assessment center is conceptualized and developed, with which companies can find out how the global mindset of the assessment-center participants is constructed. Depending on the position to be filled, such an assessment center can concentrate on the participants’ already existing mindset or on their ability to develop an adequate mindset. The thesis focuses on measuring the already existing mindset, however, the results can also be used for conceptualizing an assessment center analyzing the potential for developing a global mindset. To reach this goal, the thesis has to determine which character traits essential for global mindset are innate and immutable and which ones can be developed through training.

The research question is through what kind of assessment-center design which elements of a global mindset can be tested and measured. The thesis is meant to serve as an orientation for human-resource development professionals for evaluating a candidate's global mindset by means of an assessment center.

1.3 Structure of the Thesis

The preceding chapters laid forth the problem treated, and the objective pursued, in this thesis. The present chapter contains an overview over the parts of this thesis. The second chapter summarizes the relevant literature on the topic of assessment centers and, subsequently, on the topic of the global mindset.

Chapter 2.1 defines the concept of the assessment center and explains its purpose, its history, the persons involved, and the diverse applications of assessment centers. Furthermore, the chapter discusses elements of assessment centers as well as criteria for evaluating candidates in assessment centers. The results of these discussions will later be used in conceptualizing an assessment center for the global mindset.

Chapter 2.2 first explains the concept of mindset and then, based on this definition, the concept of global mindset. It depicts the history of the concept of global mindset and the historical context in which it was formed, and considers the different types of capital that together form a global mindset in order to elucidate the latter’s structure, function, and significance.

This thesis exclusively deals with the global mindset of individuals, since the global mindset of organizations (the so-called organizational global mindsets) cannot be examined in an assessment center. Therefore, chapter 2.2.7 analyzes the development of global mindsets of individuals. The most important differences between changeable and innate character traits as elements of a global mindset are the topic of chapter 2.2.8, which forms the basis for the subsequent chapters’ discussion of training measures for the development of a global mindset global mindset in an individual.

Chapter 2.3 describes common methods of assessment in theoretical and practical respect. The results of these considerations are later used in conceptualizing an assessment center for the global mindset. Chapter 2.4 surveys studies that link the themes of global mindset and assessment center. These results are also used to develop a concept of an assessment center for the global mindset.

This thesis is structured in such a way that the objectives stated in chapter 1.2 are reached through an analysis of literature on the one hand and, on the other hand, by means of expert interviews with executives in globally operating enterprises. Therefore, chapter 3 discusses and compares common interviewing methods so that subsequently an interview design appropriate for the purpose of this thesis can be chosen. The goal of the expert interviews is to gain new insights on which abilities and qualities as part of a global mindset are considered important by executives and how they can be tested in an assessment center. These insights will also inform the concept of an assessment center to be developed in this thesis.

Chapter 4 presents the concept of an assessment center for testing the global mindset. In chapter 4.1, empirical results from the expert interviews are compared and discussed. Afterwards, chapter 4.2 presents and discusses in detail the concept of such an assessment center. The thesis ends with a conclusion in chapter 5.

2 Conceptual Framework and State of Research

The following chapters will explain basic concepts pertaining to assessment centers and the global mindset.

2.1 Assessment Center

This chapter of this thesis focuses in detail on the assessment center. First, the term is defined, and then the purpose of the assessment center is explained. Afterwards, the history of the assessment center as well as its diverse applications and its elements are presented. Finally, criteria for assessment are discussed and insights gained are summarized.

2.1.1 Definition and Purpose of Assessment Centers

Stemming from the verb "to assess", the term assessment center denotes a center for evaluation, estimation and rating. In the literature, also the terms human-resource development workshop, selection workshop, and development workshop are used to denote this concept (Kubach, 2000: 6). There is a multitude of definitions for the term assessment center, and while their wording often differs their content is mostly the same.

The assessment center is defined as a complex and flexible instrument for observing behavior; in it, several candidates are tested by a number of observers utilizing a previously defined set of activities (representative for many others: Kleinmann, 2003: 1).

The purpose of an assessment center is to evaluate candidates for positions and to determine whether or not they are suitable for a position or function (Obermann, 2009: 12).

2.1.2 History

The assessment center originated in German military psychology during World War I. From 1920 on, the method was further developed at Berlin University on order of the Defense Ministry and was dubbed military-psychological method (Kubach, 2000: 5).

During the democratization of the military at the time of the Weimar Republic, there was an effort to select commanding officers by changed criteria, and the assessment center was considered an ideal solution for this task. It made a diagnosis of the whole personality possible. The selection process included an analysis of the candidate’s biography, his use of language, his physical fitness, speed of reaction, and an intelligence test, an interview, and also a concluding conference of the testers and the candidate. The team evaluating a candidate consisted in several psychologists, army officers, and the leader of the testing center (Joachim, 1999: 13).

In 1942, assessment centers were used in the United States for the selection of candidates for the intelligence service and, from 1943 on, also for the Army. From the 1950s on, assessment centers were also used for personnel selection in a civilian environment, albeit in 1970 there were no more than 20 enterprises that used assessment centers for hiring purposes. However, in 1973 the number of enterprises using assessment centers reached 100, and in 1976 there were more than 1000 companies using them (Obermann, 2009: 16).

Since the beginning of the 1970s, assessment centers were used as an instrument for personnel selection in European enterprises. In Germany, subsidiaries of American companies introduced assessment centers into the corporate landscape. The first German assessment center was implemented in late 1969 by IBM. However, assessment centers had their breakthrough in Germany only in 1976 after a lecture by W. Körschgen of the German Society for Personnel Management (DGIP).

A study of the Task Force Assessment Center (German: Arbeitsgruppe Assessment Center) shows that enterprises that utilized assessment centers in the past have maintained that practice till today (Arbeitsgruppe Assessment Center e. V.).

2.1.3 Participating Persons

There are always several groups of persons participating in an assessment center, among others the requirements profiler, the designer, the moderator, the observers, and the candidates. The number of participants varies according to the scale of the assessment center. Requirements Profiler

In order to select useful activities for an assessment center, it is necessary first to create a requirements profile for the position to be filled, which serves as a background for the evaluation of prospective or current staff members. This profile should contain the criteria the person to be hired needs to meet (Kleinmann, 2003: 21). Designer

On the basis of the requirements profile, the designer creates activities and evaluation forms. The designer frequently is a personnel-development professional in a company or an external service provider (Obermann, 2009: 231) Moderator

The moderator’s task is to lead the assessment center through its various stages. This includes the introduction of the candidates, the explanation of activities, and the facilitation of the entire process. Ideally, the moderator is also the designer of the assessment center (Obermann, 2009: 233). Observer

The head of personnel and executives are often used as observers of the candidates. In addition, external consultants should also participate as observers, since diagnostic know-how is necessary to make an informed decision (Kleinmann, 2003: 23). Candidate

An assessment center can be used for any position to be filled, but in most cases it is employed to select a candidate for a leadership position out of a group of experienced managers or graduates (Obermann, 2009: 228).

2.1.4 Areas of Application

Most commonly, assessment centers are used for personnel selection, however, their application has expanded into other areas. Today, assessment centers are used for the selection of personnel among internal and external candidates, for assessing potential, or for analyzing training and education needs (Bröckelmann and Pepels, 2002: 15).

Since assessment centers can be designed in very different ways, their areas of application as well as the terms used to describe them can vary widely. Despite these differences, assessment centers always focus on four dimensions of behavior: dynamics, motivation, interpersonal behavior, and problem-solving ability (Schuler, 2007: 37).

2.1.5 Elements of an Assessment Center

This chapter explains possible activities as part of an assessment center. Lectures and Presentations

A short lecture or presentation is a common exercise in an assessment center. In these exercises, several candidates are given a topic, on which they present in front of the observers (also called assessors) for between 5 and 15 minutes. (Püttjer and Schnierda, 2012: 87).

The type and topic of such a presentation can vary significantly and depends on the position to be filled. There are different types of presentations, such as personal introductions and sales presentations, presentations of the company or an industry, presentations of results, on a theme, or on a thesis, etc. (Schuler, Becker and Diemand, 2004: 134).

Observers try to test the candidate’s grasp of a theme and his ability to present it in a convincing and accessible way. Every assessment center includes at least one such exercise (Scholz, 1994: 57). Group Activities

Group discussions are often at the center of an assessment center. The participants are given a topic to discuss, but structuring the discussion is left to them (Püttjer and Schnierda, 2012: 117)

The purpose of the group discussion is to find out how a candidate integrates into the group and to what degree he is able to participate in team work. In addition, the activity tests a candidate's self-assertiveness as well as his communicative skills. A group activity should take 15 to 20 minutes. The content of the arguments put forth is of secondary importance, most important is the process of problem-solving, the communicative skills demonstrated, and the individual's behavior in the group (Gloor, 1993: 68) Role Plays

Typical roles the candidates are supposed to take are head of personnel, supervisor, CEO, or team leader. The other active part in the role play is taken by the moderator or an observer (Püttjer and Schnierda, 2012: 161).

Role plays are meant to test candidates in situations that are typical for the position.

Situations typically acted out are conversations about conflicts, sales conversations, and motivational conversations. The main focus is on the one hand on a candidate's ability of self-assertion and, on the other hand, on his ability to compromise. Simulated conversations between supervisor and staff member also test the candidate’s capacity for empathy (Obermann, 2009: 110). Intray Exercises

A very frequently used exercise in assessment centers is the so-called paper-and-pencil test, which is completed by each participant individually. The task is often set up in such a way that the candidate has to put himself into the role of an executive and, in this capacity, has to work under time pressure through a large number of documents. In the course of this exercise, the candidate has to process a large amount of information and make numerous important decisions (Püttjer and Schnierda, 2012: 218).

This exercise tests how candidates grasp, and control, social processes, their ability to think and operate systematically, and their potential for agility and productivity. This exercise is very complex and usually takes up to two hours to complete (Obermann, 2009: 116). Interviews

Interviews show many parallels to a typical job interview. Targeted and structured questions are used to yield an accurate image of the candidate. Frequently, precise questions are asked that will not allow for evasive or not very concrete answers in order to gain insights about the candidate’s actions and behavior in the past. This information is important because previous actions and behavior allow to predict future actions and behavior (Obermann, 2009: 119). For this reason, it is important to ask questions aiming at behavior and the ability to meet specific requirements. Personality Tests, Intelligence Tests, Performance Tests, and Concentration Tests

An assessment center combines a number of individual exercises. These exercises can be part of a classical psychological test such as an intelligence or performance test or a concentration or personality test. They measure general intellectual abilities such as general knowledge, logical thinking, or retentive memory. In addition, specific intellectual abilities are tested, such as verbal intelligence, word and language comprehension, spelling, or expressive ability (Püttjer and Schnierda, 2012: 247).

Furthermore, the ability to concentrate on tasks as well as endurance, resilience, and so on are tested. Also, personal characteristics such as emotional stability, interpersonal skills, and ability to perform are measured (Obermann, 2009: 123). Feedback

After completion of the exercises, the observers discuss the final assessment with the candidates. In most cases, the discussion starts with a short retrospective in the circle of all candidates. Individual feedback, however, is given each candidate in private (Püttjer and Schnierda, 2012: 278).

The goal of the feedback session is to support the candidates in further developing their personality and in correcting their weaknesses. A good feedback is concrete, refers to specific situations, and is descriptive (Obermann, 2009: 128).

2.1.6 Evaluative Criteria

The requirements profile determines the relevant evaluative criteria in an assessment center. These vary according to the position to be filled. Self-presentation, verbal skills, creativity, social behavior, persuasiveness, a structured approach, decisiveness, and behavior in conflict situations are examples of criteria used to evaluate the participants. The criteria are weighted against the background of the requirements of the position to be filled as well as the corporate culture (Obermann, 2009: 131).

2.1.7 Results

It is necessary for companies to adapt to competition and to improve themselves. This can only be achieved with the help of adequate personnel. The pressure to adapt and to develop increases in globalized markets. Therefore, personnel selection is an important aspect of business development (Obermann, 2009: 144). For this selection process, companies can use the assessment center as a widely used and commonly accepted instrument for multi-phase personnel selection (Schuler, 2007: 4).

However, using an assessment center only makes sense if its design is informed by the company's situation and if the organizational and financial effort is acceptable to the enterprise (Obermann, 2009: 147).

2.2 Global Mindset

The following chapter focuses on the global mindset. First, it explains the term mindset, since this term is the basis for understanding the concept of a global mindset. Based on this explanation, the term global mindset is defined and discussed. The chapter describes the types of capital that are included in a global mindset. Subsequently, the chapter considers the relevance, and perspectives, of the global mindset. It also aims at distinguishing between innate, immutable and acquired, changeable character traits as elements of an individual’s global mindset, and outlines opportunities for enhancing learning and training methods.

2.2.1 Concept of Mindset

A mindset consists in that which an individual knows, thinks, accepts, and believes about a topic. In investigating a mindset, the latter is distinguished in contents, structure, and function (Hruby, 2013: 14 ff.). This distinction is explained in the following. In an additional step, the chapter describes the functions, but also potential dysfunctions of the mindset. The final sub-chapter ( discusses significance and requirements of the mindset. Contents and Structure

In investigating an individual mindset, Walsh distinguishes between contents and structure (Hruby, 2013: 14). The cognitive contents of a mindset, according to Gallavan, can be considered a precondition for its structure (Galavan, 2005: 36). In order to understand the structure of the mindset, its contents must first be identified and investigated (Walsh, 1995: 290). The contents of a mindset is, according to Finkelstein and Hambrick, the knowledge and the assumptions that a person bears within himself about an object (Finkelstein and Hambrick, 1996: 57). The structure of a mindset is determined by the principle according to which a cognitive contents is ordered (Hruby, 2013: 15). However, other authors maintain that the structure of the mindset is to be investigated independently from, and with higher priority than, its contents and function. Weick and Bougon argue for this latter position and state as reason that it would be difficult to register the contents of a mindset in its entirety, and that it is therefore important to understand its structure first (Weick and Bougon, 1986: 114).

Schneider and Angelmar argue that the structure of a mindset consists in categories, construction systems, causal structures, and scripts (Schneider and Angelmar, 1993: 349). Frequently, the focus of investigations is put on categories because they are easier to analyze than construction systems, causal systems, and scripts (Hruby, 2013: 15).

Categories are considered hierarchically organized thoughts. Individuals use categories in order to structure situations, goals, and actions (Hodgkinson et al, 2004: 333). Without such categories, thinking would hardly be possible, as each individual thought would have to be developed separately and in full, and, consequently, memory capacity would soon be exhausted (Hruby, 2013: 15). Thus, we can follow Galavan in putting forth the thesis that actions of individual are directed by cognitive contents and cognitive structures, and that contents and structure are closely interconnected (Galavan, 2005: 37).

We can thus summarize that an individual’s mindset determines how this individual receives, stores, and recalls information. In addition according to Bamberger and Wrona, a mindset consists in hierarchical and complex components with which it creates a multitude of ordered, interlinked cognitions (Bamberger and Wrona, 2004: 364f.). The specific cognitive structure of an individual emerges from influencing factors of differing strength, which this individual has gathered over the course of his life (Hruby, 2013: 16). At the same time, this cognitive structure shapes the perception of these influence factors. This interaction is depicted in figure 2.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig. 1: Elements of an Individual Mindset1 (Source: Hruby, 2013: 16.)

A mindset can be conscious or unconscious to the human being that bears it, and it can be explicit or implicit. While factual knowledge lies at the surface and is therefore relatively easy to test, to change, or to expand, basic values, motivations, norms, and convictions are much more difficult to change (Hruby, 2013: 17). Functions and Dysfunctions of the Mindset

Generally speaking, the function of the mindset is to fill gaps on the basis of previous experiences. According to Markus and Zajnov, a mindset has four particular functions (Markus and Zajnoc, 1985: 150), which are listed in table 1:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Tab. 1: Functions of the Mindset According to Marcus and Zajnov

(Source: Own representation based on Markus and Zajonc, 1985: 150, own translation.)

A mindset can also be disadvantageous to individuals by limiting the range of their potential decisions, which can lead to poor decision making (Walsh, 1995: 280).

Additionally, a mindset can enforce thinking in stereotypes, which leads to filling gaps on the basis of ignorance. Thus, information which is essential to solving conflicts and problems may be omitted (Gioia, 1986: 346). Significance and Requirements of a Mindset

Present and future behavior and decision-making habits of individuals are shaped by schematic knowledge stored in their mindsets. Irrelevant information is omitted, which simplifies information processing and decision making (Hruby, 2013: 18).

So far, the results show that a mindset directs attention and perception in the decisionmaking process toward internal and external stimuli and, thereby, initiates informational and problem-solving processes (Wrona, 2008: 49). In strategic decision making, a mindset supports the interpretation of facts by attributing meaning and significance to them (Bamberger and Wrona, 2004: 365).

Sparrow holds that an appropriate mindset as the following properties listed in table 2:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Tab. 2: Properties of the mindset According to Sparrow

(Source: Own representation based on Sparrow, 1999: 143)

It is of great importance to companies to measure their current or prospective staff’s mindset to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their personnel-selection decisions and to reach their goals. How a global mindset can be measured is discussed in chapter 4. First, however, the concept of the global mindset is explained.

2.2.2 Definition of the Term Global Mindset

The global mindset is often mentioned in connection with a structure of thought nowadays needed by successful managers operating in an environment of intense competition. The contents of this individual structure of thought consists in attitudes, abilities, competencies, modes of behavior, as well as organizational orientation, structures, strategies, and political attitudes (Javidan et al., 2007: 12). There is no exact definition of the term global mindset in the research literature. The concept of global mindset can be considered on the level of an individual, i.e., on the level of a manager, or on the level of an organization. In the latter case, the global mindset is attributed to an entire organization rather than to the organization’s individual members. In the following, different definitions will be given and commented on.

According to Rhinesmith, a global mindset opens up a broad scope of perception, which makes it more likely for its bearer to reach his goals. It includes a sensitivity for unexpected trends and possibilities (Rhinesmith, 1992: 63). Paul argues that a global mindset develops on the basis of a person’s perception of the world and the way in which this person learns from experience (Paul, 2000: 188).

Levy et al. describe in their study that individuals with a broad global mindset dispose of a considerable breadth of scope. This includes, but is not limited to, their personal environment. These people also show tolerance, a high degree of curiosity toward other people and cultures, and an understanding of the diverse dimensions of values (Levy et al., 2007: 9ff.). Additionally, Levi et al. define a global mindset as a multitude of individual attributes that influence a manager’s decisions (Levy et al., 2007: 6ff.).

According to Kefalas, managers with a global mindset are able to interconnect local and global contexts and strategies, and to derive strategies from one of these two areas to apply them to the other (Kefalas, 1998).

To summarize, there is no definition for a global mindset generally agreed on. For the purpose of this thesis, a global mindset is therefore defined as a set of instruments essential to managers. The elements of this set are the global mindset's 35 core properties.

2.2.3 History and Historical Context of the Term Global Mindset

The term global mindset first appeared in research literature in 1969. At that time, Perlmutter described three different concepts of managerial leadership: the ethnocentric leadership concept, which describes a manager’s orientation toward his homeland; the polycentric leadership concept, which describes a manager’s orientation toward his host country; and, finally, the geocentric leadership concept, which amounts to an orientation to the world (Perlmutter, 1969).

Already at that time, it was obvious that recruiting the right type of manager was of great importance because he makes his business decisions on the basis of personal attitudes and of his own leadership style (Perlmutter, 1969).

Ethnocentric concept: In this concept, the culture and values of the home country rank higher than those of other countries. Managers with this attitude have an aptitude for tasks that are highly standardized and for the implementation of technologies and processes needed everywhere in the world (Perlmutter, 1969).

Polycentric concept: managers with this leadership concept are able to adapt well to different cultural contexts and to overcome barriers easily. If a high sensitivity for local markets is needed, a manager with a polycentric attitude is of considerable value (Perlmutter, 1969).

Geocentric concept: This concept is considered a first description of the global mindset. Managers with a leadership style in sync with this concept have a well-developed ability to bring together groups from different cultures to strive for a common goal. They consider the world a market place and understand cultural differences as opportunities rather than as obstacles. Managers of this ilk are important to companies that operate globally (Perlmutter, 1969).

Every organization develops, and the further its development has progressed, the more essential it is for the company’s success to employ managers with a global mindset. The following figure 1 shows this development over the course of time and in different stages.

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Fig. 2: Global Mindset and Organizational Development2 (Source: Hruby, 2013: 41.)

Today, the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona has emerged as the main proponent of the concept of global mindset. The school has developed the Global Mindset Inventory (GMI), a questionnaire with 76 questions, which test the global mindset both on the level of the individual as well as on the level of the organization. The properties the questions are aimed at can be categorized into three groups, each of which relates to a specific type of capital (Thunderbird global mindset Institute, 2011: 5).

2.2.4 Global Mindset as Intellectual, Psychological, and Social Capital

Included in the intellectual capital are logical thinking in business matters, the ability to solve complex tasks, and an interest in developments and events in the world at large. The second group of characteristics is subsumed under the category psychological capital. This category includes a passion for diversity, an active interest in the adventurous, and a highly developed self-confidence. Diplomacy as well as intercultural and interpersonal empathy belong to the third group, the social capital (Hruby, 2013: 51). These three types of capital are explained in more detail in the following.


1 Own translation: center box: individual structure of cognition. Starting with the top box and proceeding clockwise, the terms used are: attitude, memory, experience, cognitive process, convictions, perception of information, values, assumptions.

2 Own translation: vertical line: Organizational Development; horizontal line: Time. From left to right: ethnocentrism; ethnocentrism; ethnocentrism and polycentrism; polycentrism and geo-centrism; geo- centrism.

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Development and Outline of an Assessment Center for Testing the Global Mindset
Prifysgol Cymru University of Wales
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development, outline, assessment, center, testing, global, mindset
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Gordon Flügge (Author), 2013, Development and Outline of an Assessment Center for Testing the Global Mindset, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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Title: Development and Outline of an Assessment Center for Testing the Global Mindset

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