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Individual Differences and Development in Organisations reviewed


Title: Individual Differences and Development in Organisations
Editor: Michael Pearn
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, 2002
ISBN: 0-471-48540-3
Price: £75.00

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This is a great book. Billed as a handbook (part of a series on the psychology of management in organisations), it certainly fulfils that task. Nearly 400 pages; hardback so it will stand repeated use; references at the end of each chapter plus a full author listing and a subject index; and set out clearly with an at-a-glance listing of topics plus a summary at the beginning of every chapter. It looks set to become a valuable addition and constant source of reference and ideas for anyone involved in development within organisations.

The editor explains that he has sought to produce a book that is aimed equally at "academically-minded practitioners and practice-orientated academics". As a member of the former, I confirm that he succeeds - the writing styles of the various contributors mean that what they say is easily understandable whilst also backed up with plenty of source information and references.

Part 1 covers approaches, concepts and theories about the nature of development and learning, including topics such as how our approaches to learning are based on embedded notions of the 'self' of the learner; how to involve the whole person; how to link what we do to the latest findings from research into cognitive processes and genetics; and dilemmas raised about whether to restrict learning based on individual differences such as cognitive ability.

Part 2 contains much on what we know about individual differences, such as: traditional and more recent approaches to intelligences and how to measure them; research on personality and style preferences and whether organisations have the right to seek to change these; a critical examination of three approaches to the study of management effectiveness and three models of competency; and the significance of emotional intelligence.

Part 3 covers assessment tools and processes, including individual needs assessments, a case study on incorporating individual assessment into an organisation's management development process; and a critical review of the use of assessment and development centres.

Part 4 is devoted to development methods and processes, with frameworks for choosing which methods for various contexts; the importance of choosing within the team in mind; ten strategies for balancing conflicting demands; research and theoretical support for self-managed learning; models for learning within different types of social networks; and the potential benefits of online networking.

Part 5 picks up the organisational context, with reviews of: leader development including best practice studies; creativity and innovation in organisations and the relationships with individual, group and organisation levels; models and strategies for managing diversity and how these are applied to recruitment, promotion, development, appraisal, etc.

So something for just about everyone there!

Reviewed by Julie Hay
A D International


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