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Classes of executive functions: homeostatic, mediative, proactive | Zaleznik (1964)

The term proactive, in comparison to reactive, only dates back to 1964. [1]  #AbrahamZaleznik, a professor of organizational psychodynamics and practicising psychoanalyst, cited Chester Barnard in the distinction for managers performing in nonexecutive and executive functions.  Building on Sigmund Freud’s later development of energy cathexes, with emotional energy towards (i) ideas, (ii) persons, or a (iii) fusion of the two, the predisposition of a manager influences priorities.  These may (or may not) be altered through (executive) education.

A central objective of … training efforts [within and outside of universities] is to modify behavior, usually interpersonal, according to some set of norms that relate to organizational effectiveness or improved individual and group performance.

The purpose of this paper is to raise for inquiry the adequacy of existing notions of what interpersonal competence is, how it relates to the manager’s job, and the best means for helping managers achieve this competence. [Zaleznik (1964) p. 156]

Executive functions ensure the organization operates as a cooperative system through specialized authority; nonexecutive functions include technical activities of the organization that might be carried out by others.

The term proactive, in comparison to reactive, only dates back to 1964. [1]  #AbrahamZaleznik, a professor of organizational psychodynamics and practicising psychoanalyst, cited Chester Barnard in the distinction for managers performing in nonexecutive and executive functions.  Building on Sigmund Freud’s later development of energy cathexes, with emotional energy towards (i) ideas, (ii) persons, or a (iii) fusion of the two, the predisposition of a manager influences priorities.  These may (or may not) be altered through (executive) education.

A central objective of … training efforts [within and outside of universities] is to modify behavior, usually interpersonal, according to some set of norms that relate to organizational effectiveness or improved individual and group performance.

The purpose of this paper is to raise for inquiry the adequacy of existing notions of what interpersonal competence is, how it relates to the manager’s job, and the best means for helping managers achieve this competence. [Zaleznik (1964) p. 156]

Executive functions ensure the organization operates as a cooperative system through specialized authority; nonexecutive functions include technical activities of the organization that might be carried out by others.

Artificial intelligence, natural stupidity

Psychologist Amos Tversky, with Daniel Kahneman, collaborated not on artificial intelligence, but on the study of natural stupidity.  Their research into cognitive biases eventually became recognized in an emerging field of behavioral economics.  In hindsight, I can claim to have received an “A” in a Ph.D. course taught by the winner of a Nobel Prize in economics.

In my first cycle of doctoral studies, I was guided at UBC by my supervisor Ken MacCrimmon into a PSYC546 “Seminar in Psychology Problems”, which was led by Danny Kahneman.  This course was offered shortly after the 1982 publication of the book Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases, edited by Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovic, and Amos Tversky.  With Kahneman at UBC in Vancouver, and Tversky at Stanford University in the San Francisco Bay Area, the back-and-forth flights to visit each other was frequent.  I uncovered more about the relationship between the two psychology professors in reading The Undoing Project. That book describes a difficult history of university faculty offers, not only around the two collaborators, but also the accommodation of wives Barbara Gans Tversky and Anne Treisman.

Psychologist Amos Tversky, with Daniel Kahneman, collaborated not on artificial intelligence, but on the study of natural stupidity.  Their research into cognitive biases eventually became recognized in an emerging field of behavioral economics.  In hindsight, I can claim to have received an “A” in a Ph.D. course taught by the winner of a Nobel Prize in economics.

In my first cycle of doctoral studies, I was guided at UBC by my supervisor Ken MacCrimmon into a PSYC546 “Seminar in Psychology Problems”, which was led by Danny Kahneman.  This course was offered shortly after the 1982 publication of the book Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases, edited by Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovic, and Amos Tversky.  With Kahneman at UBC in Vancouver, and Tversky at Stanford University in the San Francisco Bay Area, the back-and-forth flights to visit each other was frequent.  I uncovered more about the relationship between the two psychology professors in reading The Undoing Project. That book describes a difficult history of university faculty offers, not only around the two collaborators, but also the accommodation of wives Barbara Gans Tversky and Anne Treisman.

Systems sciences and the 1957-58 Fellows of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences

How do systems — systems sciences, systems thinking, systems practice — fit into the way that individuals and social groups behave?  The connections between the development of general systems theory and interdisciplinary work stretches back into the mid-20th century.  In the Science of Synthesis, Debora Hammond traced the history of researchers bridging over disciplinary boundaries.

Early in the fall of 1954, four of the distinguished CASBS [Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences] fellows — Bertalanffy, Boulding, Gerard, and Rapoport — sat together at lunch discussing their mutual interest in theoretical frameworks relevant to the study of different kinds of systems, including physical, technological, biological, social, and symbolic systems. According to Boulding, someone suggested they form a society to foster interdisciplinary research on a general theory of complex systems, and thus the idea for the Society for General Systems Research (SGSR) was born.  [Hammond 2003, p. 9]

Initiated by a grant from the Ford Foundation in 1954, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences continues today, having joined Stanford University in 2008.  The luminaries founding the Society for General Systems Research — Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Kenneth Boulding, Ralph Gerard and Anatol Rapoport — continue to be held in high regard today, in the International Society for the Systems Sciences (as the society was renamed in 1998).

The CASBS ties surfaced during the research leading to the report “John Bowlby – Rediscovering a systems scientist“, authored by Gary Metcalf.  On a visit to the Bowlby archives in the Wellcome Library in London, I served as a research assistant to Gary.  One artifact that we uncovered was the list of CASBS fellows for the 1957-58 years, with blue pen and red pencil markups by Bowlby.  Over 50 years later, many of those fellows have become prominent public figures, famous in a variety of ways.  Here’s my transcription of that original document.  In the case some of the names seem only vaguely familiar, I’ve appended a column on biographical sources as a reference.

<< begin paste >>

How do systems — systems sciences, systems thinking, systems practice — fit into the way that individuals and social groups behave?  The connections between the development of general systems theory and interdisciplinary work stretches back into the mid-20th century.  In the Science of Synthesis, Debora Hammond traced the history of researchers bridging over disciplinary boundaries.

Early in the fall of 1954, four of the distinguished CASBS [Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences] fellows — Bertalanffy, Boulding, Gerard, and Rapoport — sat together at lunch discussing their mutual interest in theoretical frameworks relevant to the study of different kinds of systems, including physical, technological, biological, social, and symbolic systems. According to Boulding, someone suggested they form a society to foster interdisciplinary research on a general theory of complex systems, and thus the idea for the Society for General Systems Research (SGSR) was born.  [Hammond 2003, p. 9]

Initiated by a grant from the Ford Foundation in 1954, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences continues today, having joined Stanford University in 2008.  The luminaries founding the Society for General Systems Research — Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Kenneth Boulding, Ralph Gerard and Anatol Rapoport — continue to be held in high regard today, in the International Society for the Systems Sciences (as the society was renamed in 1998).

The CASBS ties surfaced during the research leading to the report “John Bowlby – Rediscovering a systems scientist“, authored by Gary Metcalf.  On a visit to the Bowlby archives in the Wellcome Library in London, I served as a research assistant to Gary.  One artifact that we uncovered was the list of CASBS fellows for the 1957-58 years, with blue pen and red pencil markups by Bowlby.  Over 50 years later, many of those fellows have become prominent public figures, famous in a variety of ways.  Here’s my transcription of that original document.  In the case some of the names seem only vaguely familiar, I’ve appended a column on biographical sources as a reference.

<< begin paste >>

How adult is your teen?

In the weekend Globe & Mail Focus section, Tralee Pearce wrote an article titled “Adolescence is obsolete” (subscription required, unfortunately). It outlines a new book The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen by a former editor of Psychology Today, Robert Epstein. (As an alternative, there’s lots of links to articles, essays and even video on adolescence on the drrobertepstein site).

Pearce writes that Epstein:

…. challenges this drive to postpone the rights and obligations of adulthood. He suggests that we have lost track of what it means to be an adult – and underestimate just want it takes to become one.

The short version — 140 questions! — of the Epstein-Dumas Test of Adultness is available online at howadultareyou.com . (I haven’t taken this test, because I’m arrogant enough to actually believe that I approach a half-century in age, I am an adult!)

In the weekend Globe & Mail Focus section, Tralee Pearce wrote an article titled “Adolescence is obsolete” (subscription required, unfortunately). It outlines a new book The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen by a former editor of Psychology Today, Robert Epstein. (As an alternative, there’s lots of links to articles, essays and even video on adolescence on the drrobertepstein site).

Pearce writes that Epstein:

…. challenges this drive to postpone the rights and obligations of adulthood. He suggests that we have lost track of what it means to be an adult – and underestimate just want it takes to become one.

The short version — 140 questions! — of the Epstein-Dumas Test of Adultness is available online at howadultareyou.com . (I haven’t taken this test, because I’m arrogant enough to actually believe that I approach a half-century in age, I am an adult!)

I am happier than 98% of people who take the Authentic Happiness Inventory Questionnaire

The Focus section of the Globe & Mail newspaper this past weekend centered on happiness. The Authentic Happiness Inventory Questionnaire, developed five years ago by Christopher Peterson (from the U. of Michigan) was reproduced as 24 questions in the newspaper. Matthew Trevisan reports that …

thousands of people have taken the test online, with an average score of 3.24 out of five. Pretty good, considering that most of the people who take it are what Prof. Peterson calls “seekers.”

“I mean, if you are happy as a clam, why the heck would you go to a positive psychology survey?”

Well, I’m a researcher, so I was just curious as to how I would score. Since I hate doing arithmetic, I found that the questionnaire is available on a University of Pennsylvania site by Martin Seligman. (You can register a userid there, to add to the statistics, and take the test). It turns out that I score 4.33, on a 5-point scale.

Authentic Happiness Inventory, David Ing

The Focus section of the Globe & Mail newspaper this past weekend centered on happiness. The Authentic Happiness Inventory Questionnaire, developed five years ago by Christopher Peterson (from the U. of Michigan) was reproduced as 24 questions in the newspaper. Matthew Trevisan reports that …

thousands of people have taken the test online, with an average score of 3.24 out of five. Pretty good, considering that most of the people who take it are what Prof. Peterson calls “seekers.”

“I mean, if you are happy as a clam, why the heck would you go to a positive psychology survey?”

Well, I’m a researcher, so I was just curious as to how I would score. Since I hate doing arithmetic, I found that the questionnaire is available on a University of Pennsylvania site by Martin Seligman. (You can register a userid there, to add to the statistics, and take the test). It turns out that I score 4.33, on a 5-point scale.

Authentic Happiness Inventory, David Ing

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