Cover image for The character of organizations : using personality type in organization development
The character of organizations : using personality type in organization development
Bridges, William, 1933-
Personal Author:
Updated edition.
Publication Information:
Palo Alto, Calif. : Davies-Black Pub., [2000]

Physical Description:
xviii, 158 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library HD58.7 .B74 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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An organization's character shapes how decisions get made and new ideas are received. In this book, William Bridges identifies 16 organizational character types using the framework of MBTI personality types and shows how these influence an organization's growth and development.

Author Notes

William Bridges, PhD, was an internationally known speaker, consultant, and the author of ten books. He was known for his expertise in the "human side" of organizational change and made his career guiding individuals and organizations through transition. The professional seminars that he launched in 1988 now have certified thousands of managers, trainers, and consultants to conduct Transition Management programs worldwide.



ORGANIZATIONAL CHARACTER AND WHERE IT COMES FROM The Concept of Character Everyone knows that organizations differ in their size, structure, and purpose, but they also differ in character. A play-it-safe, old-line manufacturing company has a very different character from a new start-up software company. They differ in the same way that two individuals do. And the character of both the manufacturing company and the software company differs from that of a state university, a community hospital, or an architectural firm. An organization's character is like the grain in a piece of wood. There is no such thing as good or bad grain, but some kinds of grain can take great pressure, other kinds can withstand bending or shearing forces, and still others are lovely and take a fine polish. Some are too soft or hard, too light or heavy for a particular purpose, but each has some purpose for which it is well fitted. There are other metaphors: Character is the typical climate of the organizational country; it is the personality of the individual organization; it is the DNA of the organizational life form. It is the organization's character that makes it feel and act like itself. Organizational character varies greatly and subtly. In one sense, there are as many characters as there are organizations. But those infinitely varied differences can be profitably grouped into sixteen basic categories.1 This system parallels the sixteen basic personality types developed from the work of the great Swiss psychologist Carl Jung by Americans Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. This mother-daughter team created the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator(r) (MBTI(r)) instrument to identify an individual's personality type. As with personality type, organizational character can be established with a fair degree of objectivity. The Organizational Character Index , or OCI, which appears in Appendix A, does for organizations what Briggs and Myers did for individuals, although as a new instrument it has not yet been statistically validated. The OCI is an experimental tool meant to be used by people who work with and in organizations-people who are looking for useful tools and willing to test and improve them as they use them. The OCI is not an adaptation of the MBTI instrument, but it is based on the same four pairs of opposing tendencies that Myers and Briggs adapted from Carl Jung's work. As adapted from the individual realm to the organizational, those dichotomies are the following: ? Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I)-the organization's orientation, the location of its reality, and the source of its energy. Is the organization primarily outwardly oriented toward markets, competition, and regulations (Extraverted), or is it inwardly oriented toward its own technology, its leaders' dreams, or its own culture (Introverted)?2 ? Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)-how it gathers information, what it pays attention to, how it perceives. Is the organization primarily focused on the present, the details, and the actuality of situations (Sensing) or on the future, the big picture, and the possibilities inherent in situations (Intuition)? ? Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)-its way of processing information, its manner of judging situations, its way of making decisions. Does the organization do these things by an impersonal process so that decision making happens on the basis of such principles as con- sistency, competence, and efficiency (Thinking), or through a personal process that depends on values such as individuality, the common good, or creativity (Feeling)? ? Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)-does the organization tend to deal with its external world through one of the Judging functions (Thinking or Feeling) or through one of the Perceiving func- tions (Sensing or Intuition)? Organizations in which Judging predominates prefer to reach firm decisions, define things clearly, and get closure on issues. Organizations in which Perceiving predominates are always seeking more input, preferring to leave things loose, or opting to keep their choices open. Excerpted from The Character of Organizations: Using Personality Type in Organization Development, Updated Edition by William Bridges All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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