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Personality type and work-related outcomes: An exploratory application of the Enneagram model

Sutton, A and Allinson, C and Williams, H (2013) Personality type and work-related outcomes: An exploratory application of the Enneagram model. European Management Journal, 31. ISSN 0263-2373

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Abstract

Despite the Enneagram Personality Typology growing in popularity within the workplace, little research has focused in it. The aims of this study were therefore twofold. First, to establish how the Enneagram Personality Typology relates to personality approaches that are more established within the research literature and second, to explore the relationship between Enneagram types and key workplace attitudes and cognitions. In doing so, the study is the first investigation into the validity and utility of the Enneagram model as a typology approach to personality in the workplace. Four hundred and sixteen participants, the majority in full time employment, completed a questionnaire survey assessing personality (Enneagram type, Big Five traits, personal values, implicit motives) and work-related variables (job attitudes and cognitions and occupational demographics). Enneagram types were distinguished using a unique pattern of traits, values and implicit motives, demonstrating that the typology provides a way of describing the “whole person”. In addition, each of the types had different relationships with the work variables, with the Enneagram model having predictive utility on a par with the personal values and implicit motives, and in one case higher predictive utility than the Big Five. With its focus on self-development and the identification of hidden potential, the Enneagram typology might provide a powerful tool for employee development and talent management. The integrative rather than reductionist approach to personality encourages a more realistic understanding of individual behaviour at work.

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