Cognitive Complexity: A Profile of Pre-Service Recreation Managers
The quest to identify factors responsible for efficient and effective organisation behaviour has led to the growth of a body of literature known as leadership research, and a recurring theme of interest include that of leadership attributes. This study aims to make a contribution to this area of work by providing a profile on the cognitive disposition of "cognitive complexity" of a group of pre-service recreation managers.
Garder (1986) made the distinction between "leader managers" and "routine managers" by asserting that the former possess qualities which allow them to exhibit what Bass (1985) calls "Transformational Leadership". For some years, leadership research has been trying to produce explanatory accounts for efficient and effective leadership behaviours and it appears that a more recent theory of its kind is the transformational leadership theory proposed by Bass (1985). Hater and Bass (1988) suggested that transformational leaders should exhibit superior performance ability in making judgement, decisions, and analysis. Kotter (1990) further added that the ability to "gather a broad range of data and look for patterns, relationships, and linkages that help explain things" (p. 104) is one important but basic element for becoming an exceptional leader. Given that these are the behavioural outcomes of "manager leaders", a question of interest would be to identify the cognitive dispositions responsible for these overt behaviours.
Cognitive complexity, a cognitive disposition, has been defined as a person's "capacity to construe social behaviour in a multidimensional way" (Bieri, Atkins, Briar, Leaman, Miller, & Tripodi, 1975, p. 185). This suggests that level of cognitive complexity may have a bearing on a person's ability to process multidimensional information such that a cognitively more complex person may have a more differentiated perception of a person, object, or situation than a cognitively less complex person. Within these premises, it could be argued that level of cognitive complexity, acting as a mediator in the input-output process of cognitive functions, may also influence an individual's cognitive outcomes. In fact, this contention finds support in previous studies such as those by Tripodi and Bieri (1964), Hale (1980) and Kishor (1990) which had identified a positive relationship between level of cognitive complexity and superior cognitive outcomes. In a more recent study, Spengler and Strohmer (1994) compared high and low scorers of a cognitive complexity test and found that individuals with lower cognitive complexity scores were more likely to form biased judgements. Given the influence of cognitive complexity in making judgements and appraisals and the administrative challenges faced by today's recreation managers, the need to preview the status of this cognitive disposition among future recreation leaders is tempting. For a practical and application viewpoint, information from this study might provide some insight into impending programme needs and directions for future foci. (Abstract taken from Introduction)
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