Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

An examination of the cognitive construction of fit among chief executives and senior elected members in Local Authorities in England and Wales: is it gendered?

By Dale Nelson


This research examines the cognitive construction of ‘Fit’ among male and female Chief Executives and Elected Members in Local Government. Using repertory grid technique, constructions of ‘Fit’ were elicited from 20 male and female Chief Executive and 20 male and female Elected Member pairs in England and Wales. Using a ‘grounded theory’ approach to content analysis, constructs were categorised into 16 categories. Results showed that the construction of ‘Fit’, among both Chief Executives and Elected Members contains elements of both P-J and P-O fit. Both Chief Executives’ and Elected Members’ notions of ‘Fit’ have some overlap with United Kingdom, public sector based constructs of Transformational Leadership. However, Elected Members’ construction of ‘Fit’ is qualitatively different, from that described by the Chief Executives in the sample. Male Elected Members lacked the relational and communal constructs expected in Transformational models. When the total sample was analysed by sex, male and female respondents also showed differences in their constructions of ‘Fit’. Males and females placed emphases on different sub-components of ‘Fit’ and these sex differences, although subdued, are broadly in line with previous repertory grid studies outlining perceived differences between male’s and female’s management and leadership styles. As a result it is concluded that ‘Fit’ is a gendered construct. This has important implications for (1) who is being appointed to senior positions in local government; (2) the assessment of leadership in more general terms; (3) the need for effective and close working relationships between Chief Executive and Leader of the Council; (4) the progress of the centrally driven modernising agenda in local government; and finally (5) the likelihood of significant culture change in local government in the near future

Publisher: School of Management
Year: 2004
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Cranfield CERES

Suggested articles


  1. (1999). A Decade of Corporate Women: Some progress in the Boardroom, None in the Executive Suite. doi
  2. (1993). A global comparison of women in management: Women managers in their homelands and as expatriates.
  3. (1977). A Manual for Repertory Grid,
  4. (1994). A methodology for creating and comparing strategic causal maps. Cranfield Working Paper SWP2/94,
  5. (1992). A Psychology for Living: Personal Construct Theory for Professionals and Clients. doi
  6. (1978). A Realist Theory of Science, doi
  7. (2000). A review of gender differences in managerial behaviour and effectiveness. doi
  8. (2001). A Study of Women Chief Executives in Local Government in England and Wales.
  9. (1967). A Theory of Leadership and Effectiveness.
  10. (2002). Acknowledging the Individual in the Researcher. In: Essential Skills for Management Research, edited by David Partington. doi
  11. (1968). Adjustment to work: A Psychological view of man’s problems in a work oriented society. Appleton-Century-Crofts,
  12. (2000). An Analysis of the Convergent and Discriminant Validity of the Transformational Leadership Questionnaire. doi
  13. An Emerging Strategy for Leadership Development in local government. Improvement and Development Agency,
  14. (1986). An Introduction to Repertory Grids – Part Two: Interpretation of Results.
  15. (1994). Appointing a Chief Executive: Advice for members on the recruitment process., LGMB,
  16. (1993). Approaches to Social Enquiry, doi
  17. (1990). Are women different and why are women thought to be different? Theoretical and methodological perspectives. doi
  18. (1982). Assessment Centres and Managerial Performance, doi
  19. (1985). Attractiveness and Corporate Success: Different Causal Attributions for Males and Females. doi
  20. (1988). Behavioural dimensions of charismatic leadership. In: Charismatic Leadership: The Elusive factor in Organisational Effectiveness, edited by doi
  21. (1987). Breaking the glass ceiling . doi
  22. (1997). Business Applications of Repertory Grid. (accessed 16.07.2004)
  23. (1994). Career Development among Managerial and Professional Women. doi
  24. (1999). Challenging Women. doi
  25. (1997). Changes in Newcomers’ PersonClimate Fit following first stage of socialisation. doi
  26. (1992). Charisma and Leadership in Organisations. Sage, doi
  27. (1987). Conceptual and methodological issues in person-environment fit research. doi
  28. (1979). Differential responses of males and females to work situations which evoke sex-role stereotypes. doi
  29. (2000). Don’t hire the wrong CEO.
  30. (1992). Eight Decades of Employment Interview Research: A Retrospective Meta-review and Prospective Commentary. doi
  31. (2003). Employers’ Organisation Annual Pay Survey ;
  32. (1998). Environment, Transport and the Regions doi
  33. (1994). Explaining the gender-based selection decisions: a synthesis of contextual and cognitive approaches, doi
  34. (1989). Fairness in Employment Selection: A Comparison of the UK and USA Experience.
  35. (2004). Female FTSE doi
  36. (1997). Feminization unveiled: management qualities in contemporary writings. doi
  37. (1996). From “the Women’s” point of view: Feminist approaches to Organisational Studies’, doi
  38. (1985). Gender and Communication.
  39. (1990). Gender and Leadership Style: A Meta-analysis. doi
  40. (1999). Gender and Management. In: Management: A Critical Text, edited by Liz Fullop and Stephen Linstead, doi
  41. (1999). Gender and Mentoring Relationships: a review and research agenda for the next decade’. doi
  42. (1998). Gender and the Assessment of Leadership from the Perspective of Organisational Psychology: Some Conundra and Possible Answers. Paper prepared for the Equal Opportunities
  43. (1994). Gender Bias in the Selection and Assessment of Women in Management. In: Women in Management: Current Research Issues,
  44. (1994). Gender Cultures: How they affect Men and Women at Work. In doi
  45. (1994). Gender differences in managers’ developmental experiences, doi
  46. (1992). Gender: Stereotypes and Roles, 3 rd Edition. Brooks/Cole,
  47. (1988). Getting In, Getting On and Looking Good: Physical Attractiveness, gender and selection decisions.
  48. (1997). Graduate’s construction systems and career development. doi
  49. (1999). GridLab for Windows 95/98/NT. doi
  50. (1998). Grounded theory and social processes: A new direction for leadership research. doi
  51. (2000). Handbook of gender and work (pp325-346). Thousand Oaks,
  52. (1989). Has anything changed ? Current characteristics of men, women and managers. doi
  53. (1991). Hiring for the organisation not the job. doi
  54. (1980). How Industry Recruits, doi
  55. (1996). Human development report doi
  56. (2002). Illuminating the Glass Ceiling: The role of organisational culture preferences. doi
  57. (1989). Improving interactional organisational research: A model of person-organisation fit. doi
  58. (1982). In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development. doi
  59. (1988). Individual Differences in Descriptions of Liked and Disliked Co-Workers, doi
  60. (2003). Influence of Impression Management Strategies on the Promotion to Partner Process: A Gendered Perspective. PhD Thesis,
  61. (1974). Influence of sex-role stereotypes of personnel decisions. doi
  62. (1986). Inquiring Man: The Psychology of Personal Constructs (3 rd Edn.) Croom Helm, doi
  63. (1993). Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for analysing talk, text and interaction, doi
  64. (1990). Interviewer Assessments of Applicant ‘Fit’: An Exploratory Investigation. doi
  65. (1998). Introduction to PCT for Application in Management."
  66. (1994). Investigating the “Glass Ceiling” phenomenon: An empirical study of actual promotions to top management. doi
  67. (1995). investigation of female and male constructs of leadership and empowerment. doi
  68. (1993). Job Analysis: Selecting for the masculine approach to management.
  69. (1986). Job at the Top.
  70. (1994). Judgments of fit in the selection process: The role of work value congruence. doi
  71. (2000). Labour Force Survey Quarterly Supplement.
  72. (1985). Leadership and Performance Beyond expectations. doi
  73. (2003). Leadership: A Masculine Past, but a Feminine Future ? Paper presented to the British Psychological Society Occupational Psychology,
  74. (1978). Leadership. Harper and Row. doi
  75. (1995). Leading in their own ways – Women Chief Executives in Local Government. In: doi
  76. (2000). Lessons from the Careers of Successful Women. doi
  77. (1998). Making multi-rater feedback systems work.
  78. (1973). Making Vocational Choices: A Theory of Careers. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ
  79. (1989). Management paper. More Equal than Others, The Audit Commission for Local Authorities In England and Wales.
  80. (2002). Management Research: An Introduction (2 nd Edition),
  81. (1992). Management Selection by Executive Recruitment Consultancies: A Survey and Explanation of Selection methods. doi
  82. (1986). Management Selection in Britain: A Survey and Critique. doi
  83. (1991). Management Selection: A Comparative Survey of methods used in top British and French Companies. doi
  84. (1989). Managerial Leadership: A review of theory and research. doi
  85. (1994). Managerial Sex-Typing: A persistent and persuasive barrier to women’s opportunities. In:
  86. (1977). Men and Women of the Corporation. Basic Books, doi
  87. (1984). Meta-analyses of validity studies published between doi
  88. (1987). Meta-analysis of assessment centre validity, doi
  89. (1997). Modernising Government. doi
  90. (1990). Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. doi
  91. (1999). of the glass ceiling. Recent trends and future prospects. doi
  92. (1996). On Merit: Recruitment in local government,
  93. (1999). On the gendered substructure of organisations: Dimensions and dilemmas of corporate masculinity. doi
  94. (1980). Organisational Entry: Recruitment selection and socialisation of newcomers. doi
  95. (1986). Organisational socialisation: An integrative review. In: Research in personnel and human resources management .
  96. (1991). People and organisation culture: A profile comparison approach to assessing person-organisation fit. doi
  97. (2000). Perceived applicant fit: Distinguishing between recruiters perceptions of person-job and person-organisation fit. doi
  98. (1997). Perceptions of observed and model values of male and female managers. doi
  99. (1999). Person-Environment Fit in the selection process. In
  100. (1993). Person-organisation fit and the theory of work adjustment: Implications for satisfaction, tenure and career success. doi
  101. (1992). Person-organisation values congruence: No support for individual differences as a moderating influence. doi
  102. (1981). Personal construct psychology and education. doi
  103. (1971). Personal Construct Systems in Psychotherapy. Rand McNally,
  104. (2001). Predictors used for personnel selection: An overview of constructs, methods and techniques. doi
  105. (2004). Prospects: Diversity and the career progression of managers in Local Government. Improvement and Development Agency,
  106. (1991). Psychological testing and management selection practice in local government: Results of a Survey.,
  107. (1997). Psychological testing in local government.,
  108. (2002). Qualitative and Quantitative Issues in Research Design. In: Essential Skills for Management Research, edited by David Partington. doi
  109. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis for Applied Policy Research’, doi
  110. (1998). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing among five traditions. doi
  111. (1995). Recruitment, selection and assessment. In Human Resource Management: A Critical Text.
  112. (1975). Relative importance of applicant’s sex, attractiveness, and scholastic standing in evaluation of job applicant resumes. doi
  113. (1994). Repertory Grids in Market Research: An Example. Cranfield Working Paper
  114. (2002). Rethinking Leadership in Local Government – the place of ‘feminine’ styles in the modernised council. doi
  115. (1993). Room at the Top: A Guide to gender friendly Recruitment Practices.
  116. (1981). Schematic bases of social information processing’ In doi
  117. Sears H.(1982) Use of Consultants for Senior Appointments. Unpublished MBA project report,
  118. (1999). Selecting for a New Millennium: Identifying trends in human resource practices adopted by the Civil Service and Public Sector. The Peachell Group,
  119. (1992). Selection Interviews: Process perspectives. South
  120. (1977). Sex and physical attractiveness of raters and applicants as determinants of resume evaluations. doi
  121. (1978). Sex effects on managerial living decisions. doi
  122. (2002). Sex role Stereotypes and Requisites of Successful Top Managers. Women in Management Review, doi
  123. (1992). Sex role stereotyping and requisite management characteristics: a cross-cultural look. doi
  124. (1982). Sex-ratios, sex-role spillover, and sexual harassment of women at work. doi
  125. (1994). Shatter the glass ceiling: Women may make better managers. Human Resource Management, doi
  126. (1973). Similarity and Perceived Similarity of Personal Constructs as influences of friendship choice. doi
  127. (1984). Social Cognition. Random House,
  128. (1974). Some attitudinal barriers to occupational aspirations in women. doi
  129. (1957). Some problems in conceptualizing organising climate: A case study of a bank. doi
  130. (1976). Staffing Organisations.
  131. (1988). Strategic Apex Leadership Scripts and an Organisational Life Cycle Approach to Leadership and Excellence. doi
  132. (1995). Subtle effects of sex-role stereotypes on recruiter’s living decisions. doi
  133. (1980). Surprise and Sensemaking: what newcomers experience in entering unfamiliar organisational settings. doi
  134. (1995). The ASA framework: an update. doi
  135. (1971). The assessment centre: opportunities for women,
  136. (1971). The Attraction Paradigm.
  137. (2000). The capacities needed by local authority chief executives. doi
  138. (1965). The Challenge of Personal Constructs from a Viewpoint of a Theory of Construct Implications,
  139. (1995). The changing context of assessment and it’s implications. doi
  140. (1980). The design, analysis and interpretation of repertory grids. doi
  141. (2001). The Development of a New Transformational Leadership Questionnaire. doi
  142. (1982). The effects of token representation on participants in small decisionmaking groups. doi
  143. (1992). The elusive criterion of fit in human resource staffing decisions. Human Resource Planning,
  144. (1982). The employment interview: A summary and review of recent research. doi
  145. (1990). The Female Advantage: Women’s ways of leadership. doi
  146. (2003). The female leadership advantage: An evaluation of the evidence. doi
  147. (1992). The implications of attraction research for organisational issues. In
  148. (1991). The Influence of job applicant’s facial maturity, gender, and academic achievement on hiring recommendations. doi
  149. (1993). The Local Authority Chief Executive: A Good One makes a Change. The Society of Local Authority Chief Executives.
  150. (2003). The Match between CEO and Firm, doi
  151. (1976). The Measurement of Intrapersonal Space by Grid Technique. doi
  152. (1997). The moderating effect of tenure in person -environment fit: A field study in educational organisations, doi
  153. (1987). The people make the place. doi
  154. (1992). The Personality of UK Managers:16PF norms for short-listed applicants. doi
  155. (1993). The relationship among perceptual similarity, sex and performance ratings in manager-subordinate dyads. doi
  156. (1975). The Relationship between sex role stereotypes and requisite management characteristics among female managers. doi
  157. (1989). The relationship between sex role stereotypes and requisite management characteristics revisited. doi
  158. (1973). The Relationship between sex role stereotypes and requisite management characteristics. doi
  159. (1989). The relationship between sex-role stereotypes and requisite management characteristics among college students. doi
  160. (1993). The Role of Chief Executive in Local Government, doi
  161. (1991). The Role of the Chief Executive,
  162. (1997). The role of the local authority chief executive in local governance. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation,
  163. (2001). The Social Construction of Top Executives.
  164. (1978). The social psychology of organisations (2 nd ed.).Wiley, doi
  165. (1993). The status of women managers in the United States,
  166. (1996). The transformational and transactional leadership of men and women. doi
  167. (1989). The Validity of Idiographic Research Explanations, doi
  168. (1988). The visionary leader. In: Charismatic Leadership: The Elusive factor in Organisational Effectiveness, edited by J.A.
  169. (1996). Think manager – Think male: a global phenomenon ? doi
  170. (1981). Tomorrow’s Managers Today (2 nd Edn.), IPM,
  171. (2003). Transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire leadership styles: A meta-analysis comparing women and men. doi
  172. (1979). Unfair discrimination in the employment interview: Legal and Psychological aspects. doi
  173. (1989). Using Assessment and Development Centres to facilitate equal opportunities in selection and development. doi
  174. (1996). Using Rep Grid in Management Research,
  175. (1984). Validity and utility of alternative predictors of job performance. doi
  176. (1991). Ways men and women lead,
  177. (1990). Ways women lead. doi
  178. (1997). What is this thing called Fit? In
  179. (1996). Why Are There So Few Female Chief Executives In Local Government? Unpublished M.Sc. Dissertation,
  180. (1995). Will you Manage: The needs of Local Authority Chief Executives.
  181. (1988). Women & men in management. doi
  182. (2000). Women Corporate Directors: Current Research and Future Directions. doi
  183. (1997). Women in International Management: An examination of the role of home country selection processes in influencing the number of women in international management positions.
  184. (1977). Women in Management; A research review. doi
  185. (1980). Women in Management: An exploration of competing paradigms, doi
  186. (1992). Women in management. In doi
  187. (1994). Women Managers as Leaders. In Women in Management: Current Research Issues,
  188. (1995). Women Managers Moving On; Exploring Career and Life Choices.
  189. (1984). Women Managers: Travellers in a Male World. doi
  190. (1999). Women’s Progress: Women Directors of Social Services
  191. (1996). Work group socialisation.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.