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CUHK Business School Research Finds People Adapt and Grow More Conscientious When Promoted to Supervisory Roles at Work

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HONG KONG SAR – Media OutReach – 14 January 2021 – “It’s not who I am underneath, it’s what I do that defines me,” so says the titular hero from the 2005 blockbuster, Batman Begins, starring Christian Bale as the billionaire caped crusader. Instead of the hero Batman, a group of academics were inspired by what is probably one of the more profound lines in modern cinema and sought to find out whether people, as the quote suggests, do shape fundamentally who they are.

 

Specifically, it led Wendong Li, Associate Professor at the Department of Management at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Business School, to team up with seven other academics to examine whether taking on a leadership role — along with the added job responsibilities — can actually change people’s personality traits.

 

Prof. Li and the other researchers involved in the study, Can Becoming a Leader Change Your Personality? An Investigation With Two Longitudinal Studies From a Role-Based Perspective, hoped to find evidence that, rather than personality traits remaining relatively stable as traditionally assumed, they could change and develop during a person’s adult years.

 

“One of the crucial factors in driving adult personality development is taking on new roles at work,” he says. “As they take on wider responsibilities and play more important roles in organisations, novice leaders are expected to be more conscientious than when they were employees — more efficient, organised, vigilant, achievement-oriented, and dependable to subordinates.”

 

“Fulfilling the expectations and responsibilities required by leadership roles also means leaders must deal effectively with uncertainties and changes. Therefore, leaders need to be able to remain calm, and handle negative emotions in response to stress.”

 

The Big Five

The academics looked for changes in two of the so-called “Big Five” personality traits: conscientiousness, the tendency to be dependable, achievement oriented, reliable, organized, and to carry out one’s job or duty well and thoroughly — one of the best predictors of both leadership and job performance — and emotional stability, another desirable trait among leaders, which means a person can remain calm and deal with stressful situations and handle adversity effectively. The other traits in the Big Five are openness to experience, extroversion and agreeableness.

Prof. Li carried out the research alongside Prof. Shuping Li of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Prof. Jie Feng of Rutgers University, Prof. Mo Wang of University of Florida, Prof. Michael Frese of the Asia School of Business and Leuphana University of Lueneburg, Prof. Chia-Huei Wu of the University of Leeds, as well as CUHK Business School PhD candidate Hong Zhang.

 

They tested their ideas in two studies using publicly available U.S. and Australian databases, which compared the personality development of individuals at different stages over lengthy periods. People were split into a “becoming leaders group”, for employees who were promoted into leadership roles, and a “non-leaders group” for those staff who remained as employee across time.

 

The research found that moving into leadership roles led to an increase in a person’s conscientiousness, and found no significant changes in people’s emotional stability in either study.

 

“The results of the two studies supported our hypotheses regarding the relationship between becoming a leader and the subsequent small, but substantial increases in levels of conscientiousness over time and the mediating effect of changes of job demands,” Prof. Li says.

 

They shed light on what, how and why personality traits change over time after a person takes on a supervisory role, and why the characteristics develop after people take on jobs where they face increased demands.

 

Prof. Li said insights gained from this research will help businesses better manage career development and plan leadership succession — a crucial issue for the sustainability of organisations.

 

“We suggest organisations consider assigning staff with informal leadership roles as a way to encourage them to develop management capabilities,” he says. “This may help them to develop the types of behaviour and traits associated with conscientiousness and prepare them for their future tasks.”

 

“We also encourage organisations to broaden the scope and content of training to include personality development and also focus on more holistic forms of leadership development.”

 

Personality Shifts

One study consisted of 61 people in the becoming leaders group and 128 in the non-leaders group and used U.S. data selected from three different time periods — firstly between 1995 and 1996, then after 10 years and finally after 20 years. The other study comprised 342 people in the leaders group and 675 in the non-leaders group, and used Australian data selected at four-year intervals from 2005, 2009 and 2012.

 

“Consistently, results from both of the studies showed that after becoming leaders, individuals enhanced their levels of conscientiousness and became more dependable, organised and efficient,” Prof. Li says. “For them to carry out these leadership roles successfully over time may lead them to become so used to adopting such behaviours that they become a habit and then ingrained as personality traits.”

 

He says the study could stimulate further research into the idea that “people are both producers and products of social systems”.

 

Earlier studies had examined influences of major life events, such as nailing a first job, marriage, and unemployment on personality development, and the influences of job satisfaction, characteristics, insecurity, income and occupational status. But the latest study extends this line of research by examining personality development after becoming a leader and, more importantly, a change in job demands, Prof. Li says. “Although personality traits are relatively stable, they were also prone to change — even if the transformation is not always dramatic.

 

“Not all people react to a change in the same way and what we discovered in this paper was a general trend. Future research can examine individual differences in the speed, timing, and magnitude of personality changes.”

 

The researchers highlighted two concerns. Firstly, previous research suggests that highly conscientious staff may not be able to adapt well to new environments and will lack the necessary creativity. Secondly, companies may need to provide training to leaders to help them balance the benefits and possible disadvantages — such as a more volatile working environment and reduced flexibility — associated with increases of conscientiousness.

 

The latest research, therefore, has important implications for employees when managing their future careers. “People need to weigh up the benefits and costs of taking on a management role,” Prof. Li says.

 

“Although promotion will lead to them developing greater levels of conscientiousness at work over time, it can also see them become less adaptable and creative. Taking on extra job demands may also increase the levels of stress they face and have a detrimental effect on their wellbeing.”

 

Reference:

Li, W.-D., Li, S., Feng, J. (J.), Wang, M., Zhang, H., Frese, M., & Wu, C.-H. (2020). Can becoming a leader change your personality? An investigation with two longitudinal studies from a role-based perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0000808

 

This article was first published in the China Business Knowledge (CBK) website by CUHK Business School: https://bit.ly/38zsriM.

About CUHK Business School

CUHK Business School comprises two schools — Accountancy and Hotel and Tourism Management — and four departments — Decision Sciences and Managerial Economics, Finance, Management and Marketing. Established in Hong Kong in 1963, it is the first business school to offer BBA, MBA and Executive MBA programmes in the region. Today, the School offers 10 undergraduate programmes and 18 graduate programmes including MBA, EMBA, Master, MSc, MPhil and Ph.D.

In the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking 2020, CUHK MBA is ranked 50th. In FT‘s 2020 Executive MBA ranking, CUHK EMBA is ranked 15th in the world. CUHK Business School has the largest number of business alumni (40,000+) among universities/business schools in Hong Kong — many of whom are key business leaders. The School currently has more than 4,800 undergraduate and postgraduate students and Professor Lin Zhou is the Dean of CUHK Business School.

More information is available at https://www.bschool.cuhk.edu.hk or by connecting with CUHK Business School on:

Facebook: [View Image]www.facebook.com/cuhkbschool

Instagram: www.instagram.com/cuhkbusinessschool

LinkedIn: [View Image]https://www.linkedin.com/school/cuhkbusinessschool

WeChat: CUHKBusinessSchool

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ripple2wave Incubator launches Digital Water Hackathon: $250,000 R&D funds for startups with solutions to tackle Singapore water issues

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SINGAPORE – Media OutReach – 24 February 2021 Ripple2wave (R2WI), together with the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), is organizing its first Digital Water Hackathon to grow and nurture high potential startups in the area of water technology. Winners will receive prizes including S$50,000 Startup SG Founder Grant*, S$250,000 potential R&D funding, and up to S$6,000 Alibaba Cloud credits. Winning solutions will also have guidance to expand globally and get further exposure into the ecosystem. Registration at https://digitalwaterhackathon.com closes on 28 February 2021.

Singapore has set its sights on being self-sufficient in water by 2060, while water demand is expected to double in the same time frame. With current technical solutions, such as NEWater and desalination, only 85% of the demand would be met. Infrastructure investments, increasing operational costs required to maintain water systems, manpower constraints, and the impact of climate change are some of the related challenges Singapore’s water ecosystem is facing.

Given this situation, Singapore has invested heavily in becoming a Global HydroHub, continuously evaluating and embracing fresh ideas and perspectives to meet the future’s challenges.1

“The Digital Water Hackathon will contribute to these efforts (a) by raising awareness to the importance and challenges of water management and (b) by attracting talent developing digitally based ideas and solutions,” said Dr. Helge Daebel, Managing Director at ripple2wave, and added: “The digital space has proven to deliver solutions giving answer to the complexities of the water space. Singapore can leverage its reputation, collaborative ecosystem and talent to become a leader in the digital water space. We look forward to deploying our skills by creating, nurturing, and growing related startups.”

The Digital Water Hackathon will run from 6 March 2021 — 24 June 2021. Participants are provided with six problem statements from PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, Optiqua, ZWEEC Analytics and other major water players in the Singapore Ecosystem.

*Subject to Fulfilment of Startup SG Founder Eligibility Criteria


1 https://www.pub.gov.sg/watersupply/singaporewaterstory

About the Digital Water Hackathon

The Digital Water Hackathon runs from 6 March 2021 — 24 June 2021. It provides participants with six problem statements from PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, Optiqua, ZWEEC Analytics and other major water player in the Singapore ecosystem.

Participants will be able to enter the hackathon under two main categories:

(1) Entry: first-time entrepreneurs looking to solve problems in the digital water sector whose solutions are at the conceptual stage and

(2) Advanced: local or international teams with existing solutions ready to be deployed.

The programme will include a one-week Bootcamp and a 3-month long deep mentoring sessions by experts and business mentors. Participants will get the opportunity to present their solutions at the Singapore International Water Week 2021 in June this year.

More information and details about the problem statements can be found at https://digitalwaterhackathon.com.

About ripple2wave

Ripple2wave (R2WI) is a Singapore based incubator building emerging water technology leaders to serve global markets.

R2WI is a joint venture between VFT Ventures(Singapore) and Emerald Technology Ventures, a globally recognized Cleantech Investor with a twenty-year investment history. Part of this history has been a unique traction in the water space including successful exits to major industry players (SUEZ, XYLEM and BASF). Meanwhile, VFT successfully commercialised technologies from A*STAR through ZWEEC Analytics.

R2WI is supported by Enterprise Singapore and PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency to create a unique ecosystem for emerging water technology startups.

www.r2wi.com

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PrimaDollar to focus on supply chain trade finance and larger clients, MODIFI acquires its SME export trade finance business

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  • PrimaDollar today announces that its business will, from now on, be wholly focused around its increasingly successful supply chain trade finance technology platform.
  • MODIFI becomes the leading digital trade finance platform supporting SMEs globally.

MUMBAI, INDIA & AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS – Media OutReach – 24 February 2021 – PrimaDollar has made the strategic decision to focus on its category-leading supply chain trade finance platform. This is an enterprise, SaaS, technology solution that enables large and mid-sized importers to take control over how their international suppliers are funded and paid. With the increasing success of this platform and focus on larger clients, PrimaDollar’s board has determined that its existing export customers, who are typically SMEs, will be better served by moving across to one of the dedicated export trade finance specialists operating with a similar geographic footprint. PrimaDollar selected MODIFI after a full market review.

The sale of PrimaDollar’s export trade finance business to MODIFI has now completed. The transaction only relates to future business, with PrimaDollar retaining its current outstanding trade finance book.

MODIFI provides trade finance to businesses across the world on a single digital platform. The company has offices in Amsterdam, Berlin, New Delhi, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Dubai. With digital onboarding and a paperless platform, customers can get working capital in a matter of days. MODIFI pays exporters’ outstanding invoices and covers the risk of buyer defaults.

Tim Nicolle, CEO of PrimaDollar, commented that “We believe that MODIFI is the international digital trade finance company best placed to ensure that our export finance customers across South and East Asia will continue to receive exemplary service and a reliable source of low-cost liquidity in support of their international trade. We continue to be excited by the enormous growth potential open to us in trade finance — potential that has increased substantially during the pandemic. We are expanding quickly and expect to be an ever-growing part of the trade finance landscape.”

Nelson Holzner, CEO and Co-Founder of MODIFI, commented “MODIFI is delighted to take on PrimaDollar’s export trade finance customers in a deal which is fully aligned with our mission to enable global trade. This is a significant milestone for MODIFI as it establishes us as the leading global digital trade finance platform supporting small and medium-sized exporters and importers. In the next few weeks we’ll be working hard to ensure a smooth transition and provide our new customers with excellent service to support their growth”.

About PrimaDollar

PrimaDollar is a UK-based fintech with offices across South and East Asia, focused on making international trade finance work more efficiently for importers and exporters. PrimaDollar’s category-leading technology platform enables larger and mid-sized importers to take control over how their international suppliers are funded and paid. Major importers around the world are moving onto the platform enabling their international suppliers to trade on open account but with a low-cost option to get paid at shipment. Processing trades across our platform typically saves importers up to 2% or more on landed costs compared to the alternatives of using a letter of credit or asking suppliers to accept long deferred payment terms.

About MODIFI:

MODIFI is solving global Trade Finance for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). Founded in 2018, MODIFI is tackling a $20 trillion industry in which 50% of requests for Trade Finance by SMEs are rejected by banks, resulting in a funding gap of $1.5 trillion annually. Through its paperless online platform, the company empowers businesses to grow, fostering strong international partnerships and benefitting local economies. To see how small and medium-sized businesses can benefit from MODIFI’s digital Trade Finance, visit www.modifi.com or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Hong Kong Design Centre Supports the Injection of An Additional $1 Billion into CreateSmart Initiative to Promote the Creative Industries in 2021-22 Budget Address

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HONG KONG SAR – Media OutReach – 24 February 2021 – Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC), a non-governmental organisation founded in 2001 serving as the Hong Kong SAR Government’s strategic partner in establishing Hong Kong as a hub of design excellence, fully supports the injection of an additional $1 billion into the CreateSmart Initiative, which would be used to “continuously drive the development of the creative industries”. This was mentioned in the 2021-22 Budget Address delivered by the Financial Secretary, Mr. Paul Chan, today.

HKDC Chairman, Prof. Eric Yim, remarked, “The ensuing global pandemic has greatly accelerated the trends of digitalisation as well as innovation across all industries, which need to be backed by human-centred design to help us all thrive under the new normal. We fully support the government’s commitment to advancing the creative industries, as a thriving design culture is important for Hong Kong to take advantage of the new innovation opportunities arising from the pandemic.”

Amid the Government’s continual support for the development of the cultural and creative industries (which design is one of the creative industries), HKDC would strongly urge the Government to recognise the strategic value of design for creating economic value and enhancing societal well-being.

The strategic use of design and design thinking, accompanied by R&D and innovation and technology development, would enable enterprises — particularly SMEs and start-ups — to compete and grow in the digital economy. There are also ample opportunities for design to contribute to Hong Kong’s innovation and technology development, STEM education, the growth of multi-industry start-ups and local tourism, and enriching the quality of life for its citizens.


HKDC welcomes the injection of an additional HK$1 billion funding to the CreateSmart Initiative. It will continue to advance its design and innovation public mission to help create economic value and societal wellbeing.


About Hong Kong Design Centre

Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC) is a non-governmental organisation, and was founded in 2001 as a strategic partner of the HKSAR Government in establishing Hong Kong as an international centre of design excellence in Asia. Our public mission is to promote wider and strategic use of design and design thinking to create business value and improve societal well-being. Learn more about us at www.hkdesigncentre.org

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