Monday, September 16, 2013

To the surprise of no one

By Carl

….people who score high on GMATs tend to be less ethical than those who do not.

Maybe I should explain. The GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) is the B-school version of the SAT. The higher you score on it, the more likely it is you can get into a top-notch business school and hock your entire future for a seat at the casino table that may help you pay it off before retirement. As with the SATs and college, there are a lot of other factors in play, but suffice it to say that a high GMAT score, other things being equal, will attract attention from admissions officers.

It does not appear the relationship is causal, but correlative, between a high GMAT score and low ethical standards, however:

Here are three traits that make you more likely to succeed on the GMAT (and how they may affect your business performance):

1. You Don't Like Taking Risks: If you're conservative about taking risks, you're likely to score higher. Researchers found a positive association between "uncertainty avoidance" (what Wadhwa calls "safety first behavior'), and doing well on the test that would seem to discourage entrepreneurial activity.

2. You're Individualistic: Test-takers from more individualistic backgrounds also do better on the GMAT. Individualism has plenty of positive associations in the business community, like more competitive drive, but the self-reliance seen among successful test-takers makes them less likely to adapt their behavior to formal codes of ethics and informal norms around them.

3. You're Less Ethical: Higher GMAT scores are associated with less of a tendency for ethical behavior. Focus on freedom and achievement means high-scorers are more inclined to see their actions as above reproach, explained Goodell.

We can glean from these three traits the typical profile of someone who scores high on the GMAT: he’s – because men tend to score higher – conservative with a libertarian bent, and more likely to engage in unethical behavior than the typical person who takes the test, much less the general population.

This would explain a few facets of American life, don’t you agree?

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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