Questioning Linear-positive Relationships in Managerial Grids

GRID 2020 Abstracts

Questioning Linear-Positive Relationships in Managerial Grids:
Emotional Intelligence and Marketing Exchanges

Prof. Dr. Andreas Zehetner
University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria

Session I: Functional Implementation of Grids
Tuesday, May 12, 2020 | 11:00-12:30

In Management, grid or ‘matrix’ models are very popular. In principle, those grid models present the relationship of two variables. Interestingly, many management related grid models like the Managerial Grid Model (Blake and Mouton 1964) or the Boston Consulting Group matrix (BCG/Henderson, around 1970) implicitly assume a linear relationship of these variables in the logical order of “the-more-the-better”. The ‘best’ quadrant is the one where both variables have high values. E.g. in the BCG matrix, ‘stars’ are those that rank high in both dimensions, vs. ‘poor dogs’ rank low in both. The paradigm of linear positive relationships should not be considered as a panacea in social sciences. In this contribution, an interdisciplinary approach connecting elements of the psychology as well as the marketing discipline provides evidence for non-linear relationships of a person-related and a production-related dimension. In the proposed lecture, the findings of a large-scale investigation on the effect of EI on sales performance in the construction business are discussed (Zehetner, A. 2019: Emotionale Intelligenz und Verkaufsperformance. Springer Gabler, Wiesbaden). The main questions to be answered are: Ddo emotionally related personality elements of a (sales) person lead to market performance? How can the relationship of those be modeled? And lastly: is the shape of this relationship following the expected, paradigmatic ‘the-more-the-better’ direction? Or is it different?

The results show a clear non-linear relationship between EI and sales performance in the form of an inverted "U". Implications for marketing and sales practices include: EI contributes to sales performance in B2B companies, also in technical professions, which is often referred to as "unemotional". However, the effect is non-linear, which means that the "the-more-the-better" paradigm is to be critically questioned when deciding to employ sales people. Sales and marketing managers should consider EI in recruiting and personnel development. Particular attention should be paid not only to sales staff with weak, but also to those with very strong EI levels, as the latter one could yield less positive results than expected.

The present study should propel a discussion to which extent the whether the phenomenon of non-linear relationships could influence grid or matrix models in Management. Is the ‘upper right’ quadrant always the one that should be aspired? Should we always follow the “the-more-the-better” paradigm? Critical arguments and avenues for future research in this field are most welcome.